What do you get when you cross one of the finest English playwrights whoever lived with one of the most outstanding American songwriters of the 20th century.
The answer is Kiss Me Kate – a musical based on The Taming of the Shrew by the Bard with songs by Cole Porter.
Warring divorcees Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham are billed to star in a musical version of Shrew called Kiss Me Kate opening in Baltimore.
It is not long before their backstage bickering escalates into a full-scale war which spills on to the stage.
There is a romance between the not-so-steadfast Lois Lane and her gambler boyfriend Bill Calhoun who falls foul of gangsters on his trail to recoup a $10,00o dollar debt.
It is based on The Taming of the Shrew – a man, through violence puts a woman in her subordinate place.
To use the common parlance ‘some viewers may find the antiquated sexist content offensive’. Like the King and I, Kiss Me Kate is in danger of falling foul of a snowflake generation which wants to rewrite everything from Kipling to Only Fools and Horses.
Rage against it all you like – it does not make the script any less ironic, funny or the songs – including Too Darn Hot, Wunderbar, Always True to You, I Hate Men, Another Op’nin, Another Show and So In Love, smart, slick and sublime.
The production by UK Foundation for Dance and Sandside Players is quality with some of the most outstanding performances on the Scarborough stage this year.
Leading lady Rebecca Kelly-Evans plays Lilli Vanessi/Kate – her pent up wrath exploding into verbal and physical fisticuffs with perfect timing.
Her singing is outstanding in showcase numbers So In Love and From this Moment On.
Georgie Samuels as Lois is the perfect contrast: a sassy, dizzy floosie who wrung every drop of sassiness out of Always True to You In My Fashion and Tom Dick or Harry.
Damon Hotchin as the embodiment of Lilli’s ex-husband and leading man Fred Graham – frustrated, angry and bamboozled by women.
Liam Galashan was the rake Bill Calhoun who revelled in his silo Bianca.
But stealing the scenes and the show were Tim Tubbs and Jonathan Jeeves as the gangsters who find themselves centre-stage in a production of Shakespeare when they don’t know their Percy Shelley from Shelley Winters.
Their duet Brush Up Your Shakespeare has all the audience kow-towing. This production restores Porter’s knowing naughty lyrics and was a decadent delight.
Tubbs directs with love and attention and Bill Scott’s musical direction was excellent.
The dancing, choreopgraphed by Katrina Flynn, was in perfect keeping with the style of the musical.
Kiss Me Kate is on at the YMCA, St Thomas Street, on Friday October 26 and Saturday October 27 at 7.30pm; Sunday October 28 at 3pm
Box office: 01723 506750
Cast: Rebecca Kelly-Evans. Damon Hotchin, Georgie Samuels, Liam Galashan, Kathryn Irwin, Charlie Simon-Shaw, Nathan Mundey, Andrew Clay, Robin Newman, Tim Tubbs, Jonathan Jeeves, David Irwin, Roger Crowther, Tina Carne.
Amanda Bond, Anita Hill, Lizzie Jeeves, Lesley Machen, Anne Mortlock, Kath Mundey, Pauline Newman, Louise Stanway, Sylvia Terry, Katie Coole, Claire Edwards, Sophie Flynn, Kaya Hutchinson, Pippa Mundey, Hannah Whelan.
Creatives: Richard Scott, Jacqueline Greaves, Liam Downey, Katrina Flynn, Mark Watling and Jake Newlove.