Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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‘Kiss Me, Kate’ at Aurora Theatre

2009 August 9
J.C. Long and Natasha Drena

J.C. Long and Natasha Drena

A delightful production of “Kiss Me, Kate” has opened at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. It’s just a 45-minute drive  from Atlanta, and worth it to see a great show in a beautiful theater.

Borrowing from Shakespeare’s play-within-a-play theme, “Kiss Me, Kate” revolves around two actors, Lilli (Natasha Drena) and Fred (J.C. Long), who once were married to each other, and are now starring together in the revival of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” Their relationship mirrors that of their characters, Kate and Petrucchio, who play the cat-and-mouse game of come close, go away.

When Lilli learns of Fred’s newest girlfriend, Lois (Erin Lorette), who plays Bianca in the revival, she becomes an enraged shrew. Lois looks for love elsewhere and finds it with Bill (David Rossetti), who plays Lucentio in “Taming of the Shrew.” He spots Lois flirting with another actor, she makes light of it, singing “I’m Always True to You in My Fashion.”

While the cast is good, Drena’s acting and fine operatic voice are Broadway quality. Lorette also has a beautiful singing voice and can act and dance well.

Choreographer Ricardo Aponte has done a very nice job making the dance numbers Broadway-like, and colorful enough for those who can dance, such as David Rosetti, and yet not too difficult for a few who seem to have little experience with the art.

Cole Porter wrote the music and lyrics for “Kiss Me Kate,” which won a Tony Award for Best Musical when it opened on Broadway in 1949. It played again on Broadway in 2001. Regarded as Porter’s best musical, many of the tunes (“Why Can’t You Behave,” “I Hate Men,” “From This Moment On,” “So in Love,” “Always True to You in My Fashion”) have become standards.

The orchestra was excellent. Instrumentalists played flute, saxophones, trumpet, violin, bass, percussion and piano. They continued to play an extra tune as the audience filed out of the theater, but I wished they would have played for another hour.

“Kiss Me Kate,” book by Bella & Samuel Spewack and directed by Alan Kilpatrick, runs through September 6.

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