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Little Theatre of Manchester’s “Kiss Me, Kate” Combines Contemporary and the Classical

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack

Little Theatre of Manchester
Dates: November 2 – 18, 2018
Times: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM / Sundays at 2 PM
Ticket Prices: $30 for VIP / $25 for General Seating (Student & Senior Discounts Available)

Kiss Me Kate is an ambitious show, using the play within a play device in a clever and witty way. In this case, the play is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. While this idea is innovative and works well, it also makes for a more elaborate production, what with the large cast, the many costumes from two different periods, and the way Porter’s songs serve both to move the contemporary story along and also to also enhance the Shakespearean scenes.

Pat Sloan, LTM’s Head Costume Designer, has had her challenges in bringing both decades to life. Kiss Me, Kate is set in the 1940s, while the Shakespearean scenes are circa 15th century. She and her team have been working diligently for months—cutting, sewing, collecting, and making costumes (many from scratch) for a cast of 30. The actors have several costume changes for a total of approximately 350 pieces. Pat also must consider historical accuracy, and if movement is required for the scene, the fabric must allow for dance.

Sloan and her team are sticklers for detail. For example, each costume is lined in cotton (to absorb sweat). Attention to each element is paramount, from the embossed roses on Bianca’s Renaissance wedding coat and dress to the two thugs in classic pinstripe suits and spats in the always wonderful number, “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”

Kiss Me, Kate is an explosion of color and physical activity, highlighted by a magnificent two-story set, and those fabulous costumes. And with that incomparable Cole Porter touch of wit and gorgeous melody that distinguishes his very best work, it’s a show that lives up to its legendary reputation.

LTM.’s production, by the way, precedes the upcoming and eagerly awaited Broadway revival with Kelli O’Hara, expected in early 2019.

Dwayne Harris is the Executive Director of Little Theatre of Manchester, and he can be reached at dharris@cheneyhall.org.

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