AUBURN – Cole Porter’s classic “Kiss Me Kate” returns to the Community Little Theatre stage beginning Oct. 10, some 52 years after the local organization performed it as its first musical.

“Everything about this show is big,” said director David Lock. A veteran of many CLT shows, he said this is the most difficult musical he has every directed, and also the most enjoyable to work on.

“Kiss Me Kate” combines Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” with Porter’s music and lyrics and is a perennial favorite with both cast and audience.

The music and witty lines offer continuous laughter as each character’s on-stage life is complicated by what is happening off-stage.

The play-within-a-play production won the 2000 Tony award for Best Musical Revival.

Mitchell Clyde Thomas has the lead role of Fred in the 1940s scenes and of Petrucchio in the scenes of the Shakespearean play.

“He has a tremendous amount to do,” Lock said. Besides a lot of stage time with the music and acting of the more modern role, Thomas has to deliver an effective Shakespearean performance.

Lock predicted audiences will be impressed with Sonja Cutter in the roles of Lili and Kate. She appeared in last year’s CLT productions of “Annie Get Your Gun” and “A Christmas Carol: The Musical.”

One of the memorable numbers in the 1953 movie “Kiss Me Kate” with Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson is “I Hate Men.” Lock said the song will be done in the same hilarious slam-bang spirit as the film.

Nevertheless, that movie departed a great deal from the original stage version. This production will be the revival version, and one of its highlight numbers is “Tom, Dick and Harry.”

Of all the show’s delightful music, Lock said his favorite is the lush love song “So in Love.”

There is also the crowd-pleasing comedy of the “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” number by two gangsters played by Roger Philippon and Bruce Bickford.

“Lots of people have lots of places to shine” in this show, said Lock, who cited the sets, costumes, music, dancing and acting as major challenges. He noted that the costumers have done impressive work on garments for both the 1940s and Shakespearean times.

The love interest in the sub-plot features Katie St.Pierre as Lois/Bianca and William Proulx as Bill/Lucentio.

David Marshall, who was in many CLT productions several years ago, agreed to return for this production in the roles of Pops and Padre.

Others in the cast are David Handley, Ken Mansur, Karen McArthur, Judson Duncan, Phil Vampatella, James Kralich, Tamarick Peters, Anna Bruning, Karen Loggins, Lacey Moyse, Kira Gavin, Audrey Martin, Leah Fournier, Jordan Richmond and Courtney Jones.

Janet Gibson, who is CLT historian, recalls that first production by the group in 1956 in which she played a role. She said Bert and Connie Cote were musical directors and Jo-Ann Prince was choreographer.

Gibson wrote in the CLT newsletter that Frank Hackbarth, who had the male lead in that production of “Kiss Me Kate,” met one of the dancers, Becky Lelansky, and the two were married shortly before he was transferred to a U.S. Navy base in another state.

Other featured leads in the 1956 show were Casimara Poshkus, a Lewiston High School teacher; Barbara Heath of WCSH-TV; and George Ouellette, chief announcer of radio station WLAM.

Another actor was Rene Rancourt of Lewiston who has sung the national anthems for the United States and Canada at Boston Bruins hockey games for the past 30 years.

Robert Alexander, an assistant director at Central Maine General Hospital, and Roger Lucas, a Bates College student, were co-directors.

Go and do

WHAT: “Kiss Me Kate”

WHO: Community Little Theatre

WHEN: 8 p.m. Oct. 10-11 and 17-18; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16; and 2 p.m. Oct. 12 and 19

WHERE: Great Falls Performing Arts Center, Academy Street, Auburn

TICKETS: Call 783-0958 or visit www.laclt.com


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