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“A talented company that delivers this hilarious production of Kiss me, Kate with their infectious energy and terrific stage presence.”
This production by *Manor Musical Theatre Company* was directed by Pam and James Garrington with musical direction by Peter Bushby and choreography by Maggie Roberts.
Susan Bushby, who played Lilli Vanessi/Katharine, was a real shimmering star. She commanded the stage and made us laugh along with her comedic performance. She has a beautiful soprano voice delivering her solos with effortless grace. Fred Graham/ Petruchio played by Barry Styles was a fantastic leading man and their chemistry together really stood out in all their scenes and songs. My particular favorite duet was Wunderbar, where their voices complimented each other’s perfectly.
The company ensemble and dancers were wonderful as they delivered the charismatic choreography of Maggie Roberts, with energy and spirit. I particularly enjoyed Another Op’nin’, Another Show and Too Darn Hot where we see Roger Inigo as Paul lead the number with great character and style.
Rebecca Perry as Lois Lane/Bianca had wonderful stage presence throughout. Beth Hooper as Hattie and Andy Hooper as Hortensio shone with their natural acting abilities.
I have to mention George Fletcher and Lynne Ridge as the gangsters. They were a real highlight of the show for us and had us laughing every time they were in a scene. They both have such natural comedic ability (fantastic New York gangster accents), and they create such a spark when together on stage. We would have happily had Brush up your Shakespeare continue on and on just to keep them both performing together.
This company has infectious energy and you can really tell that they are having a great time on stage. It is so refreshing to see a company of all ages work together as a team and have a good time delivering a high quality show. The entire company are talented and they all offer different skills that enhanced the production. There wasn’t one smile from this company that didn’t leap off the stage and make you smile along with them. The professional attitude of the company meant that even opening night mic glitches couldn’t hinder the production.
With wonderful direction, fabulous costumes and an extremely talented orchestra, Manor Musical Theatre Company are a breath of fresh air in the world of amateur dramatics.
DT of Theatretastic rating 4/5
Kiss Me Kate
Manor Musical Theatre Company
Sutton Coldfield Town Hall
WHAT a bonus it can be to attend an amateur show packed with good music that sends you home humming the tunes and glad to missed a couch potato night in front of the telly.
This Cole Porter musical is a real corker with one hit after another, ranging from Another Op’nin, Another Show to From This Moment On, and Wunderbar to Brush Up Your Shakespeare.
The Manor MTC certainly do it justice, cashing in, too, with the humour laced into the show within a show which tells the story of an American theatre company staging a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and the on-and-off-stage conflict between the director-producer and star, Fred Graham, and the leading lady who happens to be his ex wife, Lilli Vanessi.
Vital, then, for the couple playing the couple to be on their game, and both Barry Styles and Susan Bushby blossom as the action accelerates. Their early duet, Wunderbar, is impressive, and during the Shrew production you can feel the sting in row Z when Susan (Lilli) swats her ex across the face with a most realistic smack.
Barry, the lusty Petruchio, soon exacts his revenge, however, with an equally lively spanking that leaves the man-hating Kate unfit to ride a mule following the wedding desperately desired by her wealthy but tormented father who is desperate for some man – any man – to tame his fearsome offspring.
Styles certainly leads from the front in both his roles, delighting the audience with a fine delivery of Where is the Life that Late I led, in which he recalls past loves....including Lisa, who gave a new meaning to the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Returning choreographer Maggie Roberts has made her mark in the musical, particularly in the blistering Too Darn Hot number featuring the full ensemble and dancers.
Another highlight comes with Rebecca Perry (Lois Lane and Bianca) singing Always True to You in my Fashion. A real cracker, beautifully presented.
Fine performances, too, from Patrick Stevenson (the song and dance gambling addict Bill Calhoun), and Malcolm Roberts who, in the relatively small role of General Harrison Howell, is the most military-looking – and sounding - actor I have ever seen in the part.
Then we come to the two gangsters who find themselves in the Taming of the Shrew cast because they are taking care of a large betting debt owed to their seedy boss by one of the actors. George Fletcher and Lynne Ridge are a hoot as the hoods, and their big moment comes near the end of the show when they sing the amusing Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Just need to brush up those dancing steps, a touch though, lads.
Musical Director Peter Bushby and his orchestra make a huge contribution to the success of the show in which Pam and James Garrington are production directors.
Kiss Me Kate runs to 28.04.18
Paul Marston ****