WHAT: “Kiss Me Kate”

WHO: Community Little Theatre

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

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

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

CLT’s ‘Kiss Me Kate’:

An impressive combination of cast, costumes and sets

AUBURN – Cole Porter’s wonderful “Kiss Me Kate” gets a high-power performance from a talented cast in its current run on the Community Little Theatre stage.

The show is a classic from the golden age of musical theater and for those who know it, this production recreates the energy that has made it a hit through the years. For those who don’t know it, there’s a great deal to enjoy if you trust the comedic possibilities in this blending of Shakespeare and Broadway.

The exceptional performance of Mitchell Clyde Thomas in the double roles of Fred Graham and Petrucchio makes CLT’s “Kiss Me Kate” a must-see show.

Thomas has the powerful voice required for the great songs Porter wrote for these characters. Furthermore, Thomas exhibits his fine acting talents in both the 1940s settings and the play-within-a-play staging of “Taming of the Shrew.” His hands and body language are a real delight to watch.

Thomas has some numbers that are not known as Porter’s hit parade material, but they are among that witty songwriter/lyricist’s best work. “Where Is the Life That Late I Led?” and “I’ve Come To Wive It Wealthily in Padua” are given rollicking renditions by Thomas.

Although Thomas shines brightly in his appearances, he is matched by the excellent work of his co-star, Sonya Cutter, as well as others in supporting roles.

Cutter delivers a very convincing portrayal of Lilli Vanessi and Shakespeare’s Katherine. She literally tears up the stage in “I Hate Men,” though her softer side is well displayed in “So In Love” and her “Wunderbar” duet with Thomas.

The subplot couple of Katie St. Pierre and William Proulx as Lois Lane and Bill Calhoun are also excellent. St. Pierre has wonderful stage presence and connection with the audience. A fine voice and acting skills serve her well.

As Bill and Lois, this couple offer good renditions of “Always True To You in My Fashion” and “Why Can’t You Behave?”

While the cast members come through with fine performances in “Kiss Me Kate,” their work is enhanced greatly by the sumptuous costumes and sets they have been given. As costume designer, Marianne Miller produced authentic Elizabethan gowns for the women and period costumes for the men. She was assisted by Loretta Perry, Kathy Jarboe and Ellen Hodgkin.

David Lock’s direction of “Kiss Me Kate” is outstanding.

Bill Hamilton was set designer.

Vincent Ratsavong was choreographer, and his skills were well displayed in several scenes, including “Too Darn Hot,” which features fine dancing by James Kramlich and the ensemble.

The dancing of Ken Mansur, Tamarick Peters and William Proulx also was well done in “Tom, Dick or Harry” with St. Pierre.

A special delight was the characterizations of the two bumbling gangsters played by Roger Philippon and Bruce Bickford. Their spotlight number, “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” is always a crowd-pleaser, but the pair manage to steal every other scene they were in.

Judson Duncan as Harrison Howell cuts an appropriately proper military figure for a part that seems unfortunately outdated, despite the fact that this show presents the 1999 Tony Winning revival version of the show. He does well with his song, “From This Moment On,” which has become a standard.

“Kiss Me Kate” opens with the familiar theater anthem “Another Op’nin’, Another Show.” Here, the ensemble song was a bit understated,and it seems that an opportunity was missed to make that number a really rousing introduction to the great evening that follows. The same is true for a similarly themed song later called “We Open in Venice,” which the quartet of lead characters might have belted out with more gusto.

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