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    Kiss Me, Kate, dir Poppy Burton-Morgan,15 – 19 November,O’Reilly: Put down your dusty Complete Works and put out your jazz-hands: next week at the O’Reilly, Shakespeare appears to us all-singing, all-dancing in Poppy Burton-Morgan’s production of Cole Porter’s musical take on The Taming of the Shrew.Kiss me, Kate is based around the egos of two starry actors and divorcees Fred Graham (Tom Rogers) and Lilli Vanessi (Poppy Burton-Morgan), reluctantly reunited for a musical production of the Shrew. The modern characters reflect their Shakespearean counterparts so well that is hard to tell when the leads are reciting their Shakespearean lines and when they are slipping hushed insults to each other on the show’s opening night. A versatile set design of mirrors and gauzes assists the metatheatrical aspect of the play, the chemistry between the two protagonistsshowcased when each stares vainly into either side of a drop-down mirror, staging a literal face-off for the conflictingegos of ex-husband and -wife. The scene, like many moments in the play, relies entirely on the charisma of Burton-Morgan and Rogers, who do not disappoint; both recognise that, for a successful musical, the gestures have to be bigger, voices louder and clearer, and the comic timing spot-on. Burton-Morganswitches deftly between beaming star and glaring ex-wife, standing out from the girlish dancers and presenting herself as a force to be reckoned with. Rogers counters her boldness with an air of intellectual superiority, typifying a pompous “ac-tor”. The proud and pretentious demeanours of both leads render their mutual fondness – always hiding beneath the surface – all the more touching as both effectively meet their match.The supporting cast maintain the energy well – as Lois Lane, Grace Ang-Lygate shines as a young, musicaldarling, strutting about the stage. Standard American musical accents help create the glitzy atmosphere of a Broadway show, and the two gangsters (John Gethin and Alex Hodgson) add to the fun, hamming up their obligatory Brooklyn twangs to poifection. Singing and dancing are provided to a polished standard by the stars, and a cast who add to the array with their showy perma-smiles. If you like musicals, you’ll love Kiss me, Kate; its unashamedlyfun attitude is spot-on. Whatever your normal theatre-going habits, if you’re looking for a real performance you can’t do much better than this.ARCHIVE: 5th week MT 2005

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