A musical comedy called Kiss Me, Kate is making its debut on the R. Carlton Ward Stage at the Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center on February 20 - March 2, 2014.
Shows on Thursday-Saturday begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday shows begin at 2 p.m.
The play is being produced by the Jacksonville State University Drama Department under the direction of Michael Boynton with choreography by Thomas Dewayne Garrett and musical direction by Jeremy Stovall.
The play features many Jacksonville State University students and faculty members, including Carlton Ward, the drama professor here at JSU for which the performing stage was named.
Kiss Me, Kate is a play within a play, featuring Fred Graham, who is played by Cody Lane Harrell as its star.
Graham is the director and main character in his musical production of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, which is the play within the play of Kiss Me, Kate.
Graham also plays Petruchio, a lead character in The Taming of the Shrew.
Graham casts his movie star ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, who is played by Alexandria Bates, as the costar to his Petruchio in the show within the show. Vanessi plays Kathrine in Graham’s version of The Taming of the Shrew.
On and off stage drama take hold as stress of the play’s performance heightens and tensions between Graham and Vanessi rise.
The show is in the same vein as Noises Off, a play within a play that was recently produced in Gadsden, Alabama, except Kiss me, Kate has musical numbers that make the story come alive.
At the same time, a romance kindles in The Taming of the Shrew between Bianca and Lucentio as well as their real life personas (or at least their real life counterpart in Kiss Me, Kate), Lois Lane and her boyfriend, Bill Calhoun, a degenerate gambler. Bianca/Lois Lane is played by Meghan Browning. Lucentio and Bill Calhoun is played by Joshua Cody Hunt.
The story becomes more intense as gangsters get involved, due to Calhoun’s gambling problems, with the play’s opening night.
Michael Boynton, assistant professor in the drama department at JSU and director of Kiss Me, Kate said of the show, “JSU thought that it was time to do a big, fun, crowd-pleasing comedy like this.”
“The play is complicated because it is a play within a play, but it is a classic and it is fun to perform as well as watch,” says Boynton.
Kiss Me, Kate takes the audience inside the inner workings of a musical production and reveals how shows are prepared, and how stress and romance play an equal role in the outcome of the performance.
The musical selections are in a jazz style, featuring one of the largest live orchestras used by the drama department at Jacksonville State University to date, which captures the tones of the individual scenes.
Musical numbers include “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “So in Love,” “Always True to You in My Fashion” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”
All music and lyrics were written by Cole Porter with the book written by Bella Spewack and Samuel Spewack.
The play was first performed on Broadway in 1948, and a year later, in 1949, it received a Tony Award for Best Musical along with four other Tony Awards. The first run had over a thousand performances in 19 months.
In 1999, there was a revival with 881 performances over a two month period, and Kiss Me, Kate gained another Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical to add to its coffers, plus five more Tony Awards in various categories and several Drama Desk Awards.
JSU’s drama department invites all to come to the opening performance of Kiss me, Kate on February 20, at 7 p.m.
Adult tickets are $15, JSU personnel or senior citizen tickets are $12, JSU student tickets are $10, and groups of ten or more are $8.
For tickets or more information about the play, call the box office at 256-782-5648 or visit www.jsu.edu/drama.