Kiss Me, Kate opens at Main Street Arts on March 1

SAXTONS RIVER — Main Street Arts reprises its 1999 production of the musical “Kiss Me, Kate” next month, opening Friday, March 1, for a two-week run.

This rollicking version of Shakespeare's “The Taming of the Shrew” features such memorable Cole Porter tunes as Another Op'nin', Another Show, I Hate Men, and Brush Up Your Shakespeare.

A talented local cast adds its own stamp to the play-within-a-play, set in 1948 and switching between the stormy backstage romance of the show's producer and its star, his ex-wife, and the theatrical onstage antics of the willful Kate and her swashbuckling pursuer, Petruccio.

Well-wrought jealousy, mistaken identities and mis-delivered messages elevate “Kiss Me, Kate” to a classic and perennial crowd-pleaser fully 65 years beyond its Broadway debut.

The production is directed by Ben Stockman with musical direction by Walt Sayre and choreography by Annesa Hartman. Mary Hepburn is the producer.

The star Lilli and her on-stage alter ego Kate are played by Libby McCawley, who is a match both on- and off-stage for her ex-husband, Fred, and determined suitor Petruccio, played by Steve Griffiths.

Hartman as Lois/Bianca and Jordan Mitchell-Love as Bill/Lucentio supply their own on- and off-stage subplot centered on an equally rocky romance.

The cast also features Falko Schilling as Harry Trevor and Baptista; Jim Malley, Dan Bennett, John Shepard, Victor Brandt, Kathleen Bryar, Amy Howlett, Amy Cann, Gabbi Walton, Morgan Sweeney, Alexandra Mooney, and Gail Haas.

Griffiths, Malley, and Bennett had roles in MSA's 1999 production. Mooney and Mitchell-Love got their start acting in MSA children's theater productions.

The sets for this production were designed and painted by Mary Hepburn, with construction by Ryan Ostebo. Lighting is by Robert Wickberg. Live musical accompaniment is by Sayre, Jill Newton, and Lawrence Wunderle.

Colorful costumes spanning sultry 1948 Baltimore and the streets of medieval Padua, Italy, are designed by Vivian Smith.

MSA has produced some 80 plays for adults and children in its 25 years as a community arts center.

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