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Shakespeare And Porter Add Up To ‘Kiss Me Kate’

Here’s a great double-play combination for you: Shakespeare and Cole Porter.

When Spokane Civic Theatre went in search of a blockbuster musical to close its season, it couldn’t have done much better than “Kiss Me Kate,” which opens tonight and continues through June 17.

“Kiss Me Kate” is Cole Porter’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy, “The Taming of the Shrew.”

This is widely considered Porter’s best show ever, and it took the New York critics approximately a halfhour to figure that out when it first opened in 1948.

“If ‘Kiss Me Kate’ isn’t the best musical comedy I ever saw, I don’t remember what the best musical comedy I ever saw was called,” wrote critic Robert Garland in the JournalAmerican the day after opening night. “It has everything. A show of shows that is literate, without being highbrow, sophisticated without being smarty, seasoned without being soiled, and funny without being vulgar.”

The show’s book, by Bella and Samuel Spewack, is about an acting company mounting a revival of “The Taming of the Shrew.” The actor playing Petruchio is having his own problems with his ex-wife, the actress playing Katherine. Somehow, gangsters get involved. The action shifts back and forth between the present and Shakespeare’s Italy, which allows Porter the freedom to write both his saucy contemporary songs and softer romantic songs.

“It gives Mr. Porter an opportunity to poke beyond Tin Pan Alley into a romantic mood,” wrote Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times.

The score includes such Porter classics as “Too Darn Hot,” “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “Why Can’t You Behave” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”

As one New York critic noted, “It is studded with hits, has not a mediocre number in it, and offers line after line of those fabulously ticklish lyrics at which Porter at his best has no equal.”

The Civic’s production stars Scarlett Hepworth and Troy Nickerson in the lead roles of Kate and Petruchio (which means they also play Lillie Vanessi and Fred Graham). Patrick Treadway plays Harry Trevor/Baptista, Cheyenne Jackson plays Bill Calhoun/Lucentio, and Laura Seable plays Lois Lane/ Bianca.

Other cast members include Barbara Paul, Judy Mueller, Tony Caprile, Scott Dunckley, Keith Hill, Toby L. Herman and Matt Hemmelman.

The chorus includes Danielle Buege, Joe Cannon, Thara Leigh Cooper, Kashana Cox, Samantha Grimes, Heidi Marie Groshoff, Brady A. Guinn, Katy Kapelke, Don Krueger, Greg Pschirrer, Evelyn Renshaw and Martha Wiley.

The show is is directed by Kathie Doyle-Lipe.

It runs tonight, Sunday, Thursday, May 26-27, June 1-4, 8-10, and 15-17. All shows start at 8 p.m., except Sundays when they begin at 2 p.m. Note that there will be no Saturday performance this weekend because of the Lilac parade.

Tickets are $15 on Fridays and Saturdays, $12 on Thursdays and Sundays, $12 for seniors and $9 for students. Call 325-2507 for reservations.

“The Secret of the Dragon’s Door”

The Coeur d’Alene Theatre for Youth will perform “The Secret of the Dragon’s Door” at 7 p.m. today and Saturday in Lake City High School’s auditorium.

Director Cheryl-Ann Rossi developed this 80-minute musical from a fairy tale written by her son, Robbie Vanek, in third grade.

It includes a good dragon, three evil knights and one good one, a princess, a magical forest and a live checker match. The cast contains 65 local children.

Rossi wrote lyrics to music by Jason Fortner, who directed the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” last year.

Tickets are $3 for students and $4 for adults, at the door, or call (208) 667-3530.