Kiss Me, Kate November 2011

Cole Porter’s evergreen musical is an ambitious show to mount and Southwick Opera has to be congratulated on a creditable production.

The storyline is a show within a show, alternating backstage drama with an onstage musical version of The Taming Of The Shrew. Bickering co-stars may threaten the show’s success but an even bigger threat arrives when two gangsters appear to collect a gambling debt. However menacing they appear, their true purpose is to add comic relief, which they do in a classic point number – Brush Up Your Shakespeare.

The production is slick despite complex scene changes and over-large crowd scenes – all credit to Simon Gray’s direction. Live music is always a pleasure and having a large orchestra an added bonus. However it does at times cause problems, overpowering the vocals so the witty lyrics of Porter are lost. This problem is not helped by the sound system, which was very erratic on Tuesday evening.

The production is well served by its principals. Karen Orchin is splendid as Lilly/Katherine with her crystal clear voice whilst Rob Piatt’s Fred/Petruchio is a powerful singer more than capable of putting across his big numbers. Both had success with their solos for the haunting So In Love.

Marc Valentine proves to be not only a fine singer but also a dancer with comic flair, as he woos the fair Lois/Bianca played by Becca Watts – victim of the dodgy sound system at times. However, she has great success with the Tom, Dick And Harry number.