The company of Opera North’s production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Reasons to see: Kiss Me, Kate at London Coliseum

By Eva Mason, Published June 21, 2018

Opera North, with their full-scale orchestra and chorus in tow, are bringing the magical sound of Broadway to the London Coliseum with Kiss Me, Kate.

Here’s why you need to see it before it leaves town on 30 June.

The play-within-a-play

Yes, this is a plot device used since time immemorial, but Kiss Me, Kate does it so well, with the action set during the opening night of an ill-fated musical adaptation of The Taming Of The Shrew.

Cringe at how the company hilariously mangle a Shakespearian classic, marvel at the beautiful costumes, and laugh at the sporadic appearance of a moth-eaten prop ‘donkey’ which never gets its rightful time in the limelight.

Quirijn de Lang and Stephanie Corley in Opera North’s production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Quirijn de Lang and Stephanie Corley in Opera North’s production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

The set

A huge set of rotating panels make the frequent transition between on- and off-stage action quick and smooth, as the show’s fictional ‘Taming Of The Shrew’ cast bicker and brawl, both behind and in front of the curtain.

This is a lavish production on a very large scale, with sumptuous drapes, copious red velvet, dazzling dressing room lights and atmospherically lit ‘backstage’ areas. Each efficient set change really highlights the Coliseum stage’s incredible mechanics and versatility.

The tap-dancing

There are several fabulous tap moments in this production, but none more impressive than ‘Broadway hoofer’ Bill Calhoun’s breath-taking routine during the love song ‘Bianca’.

Played by Alan Burkitt, a dancer/choreographer/singer/actor with an impressive CV spanning stage and television, Calhoun has several memorable dance scenes in Kiss Me, Kate – always brimming with energy and precision. Special mention, too, for ‘Too Darn Hot’, a rousing ensemble number that opens the second act and also features some great tap action.

Alan Burkitt and Zoë Rainey in Opera North’s production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Alan Burkitt and Zoë Rainey in Opera North’s production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

The voices

This cast has great mix of singers and voice types – a range exemplified by musical theatre actor Zoë Rainey’s fantastic rendition of the comic ‘Always True To You’ as the flighty Lois Laine, and operatic baritone Quirijn de Lang’s heartfelt reprise of ‘So In Love’ as floundering lothario Fred Graham.

The whole spectacle is magnificently supported by the Opera North Chorus, lending some operatic power and precision to the score.

The songs

This might be an obvious one, but at the heart of Kiss Me, Kate is a succession of iconic musical numbers – each more hummable than the last.

From the faux-waltz ‘Wunderbar’ and the wistful ‘So In Love’ to comic songs like ‘Why Can’t You Behave’, the innuendo-laden ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ and the fabulous ‘I Hate Men’ – and, of course, audience favourite ‘Brush Up On Your Shakespeare’ – it’s easy to forget how many hits this musical contains. You will be singing the songs long over the performance is over!

Book tickets to Kiss Me, Kate here!

kiss me kate london coliseum opera north