Lively And Indulgent, Kiss Me Kate Is Back

Kiss Me Kate, London Coliseum ★★★★☆

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Lively And Indulgent, Kiss Me Kate Is Back Kiss Me Kate, London Coliseum 4
Photo: Tristram Kenton

Before The King and I comes barrelling into the Palladium to claim pole position among the blockbuster musicals, there’s a delicious box of delights in Opera North’s almost as large-scale version of Kiss Me Kate at the Coliseum.

It’s only here for two weeks but definitely worth seeing, with a cast drawn from opera and musical theatre.  As Kate (the rebellious bride from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew) and her suitor Petruchio, Quirijn de Lang and Stephanie Corley soar in the operetta-styled numbers. De Lang plays up the comedy, and Corley gives ‘I Hate Men’ plenty of welly but it’s as nothing compared to Zoë Rainey’s exemplary and showstopping ‘Always True To You In My Fashion’.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

Similarly, in a really strongly choreographed company, Alan Burkitt as Lucentio dances almost everyone off the stage, with the exception of the remarkable Stephane Anelli who makes the relatively minor role of Paul into another lead.

As the comedy gangsters, bass-baritone John Savournin and tenor Joseph Shovelton — who seems to have morphed into Nathan Lane — steal every scene, and their front-cloth ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ is an object lesson in how not to overdo it.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

The production doesn’t quite fill the Coliseum stage, though, and the vast gulf of an orchestra pit for 50 reinforces your separation from the action.  It’s wonderful how meticulously the original Cole Porter score and orchestrations, and even some missing material, have been lovingly restored — and they play it thrillingly — but at touching three hours, it can feel a bit indulgent.

Kiss Me Kate, London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, WC2.  Until 30 June 2018.

Last Updated 21 June 2018