The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater will present a concert version of Cole Porter’s classic, “play-within-a-play” musical, Kiss Me, Kate, on Thursday and Friday, December 6 and 7, at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 8, at 2:00 p.m. Performances will be held in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street on the Princeton campus. Tickets are $12 general admission, $10 for students and seniors.
Kiss Me, Kate won five Tony Awards in 1949, including the award for Best Musical, and a popular 1999 Broadway revival also garnered five Tonys. With music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Bella and Samuel Spewack, the story centers on a production of a musical version of William Shakespeare ‘s The Taming of the Shrew and the conflicts on and off-stage between Fred Graham, the show’s director, producer, and star, and his leading lady and ex-wife Lilli Vanessi. A secondary romance concerns Lois Lane, the actress playing Bianca, and her gambler boyfriend, Bill, who runs afoul with some gangsters. The show features such classic songs as, “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Wunderbar,” and “So In Love.”
The production represents the senior thesis project of Theater Program certificate students Brad Wilson, who is directing the show, and Catherine Cohen, who is starring as Lilli. Students pursuing a certificate in theater at Princeton, similar to minoring in a subject, are required to complete independent work, which often takes the form of directing, performing in, writing, or designing a show. Gilad Cohen, a graduate student in the Department of Music, provides musical direction for the show. The undergraduate cast also includes Evan Thompson ’14, Mary Lou Kolbenschlag ’14, Billy Cohen ’16, Dan Caprera ’15, Sarah-Anne Sillers ’13, Brian Lax ’15, Dylan Larson-Konar ’15, Chris Murphy ’15, Alan Southworth ’14, Chris Beard ’14, Bennett Butler ’14, Julia Philips ’15, Victoria Gruenberg ’16, Carlie Robbins ’14, and Aly Beveridge ’16 with musicians Kevin Laskey ‘12 (drums), Cliff Wilson ’80 P’11 P’13 (bass), and Gilad Cohen GS (piano).
The students chose to focus on the rich musical score in a concert performance, rather than a fully staged production. All the music from the show will be performed with contextual dialogue surrounding the songs. Notes Wilson, “PresentingKiss Me, Kate in a concert setting has given us the opportunity to fully grasp the intricacies of Cole Porter’s sparkling score and dive into the complexity of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew without the distraction of the technical elements and spectacle that a full-scale production of this show often requires.”
Cohen notes that Lilli is a dream role for an actress. “She is bold, unapologetic, and easy to dislike,” states Cohen, “and yet, over the course of the show, she proves hilarious, passionate, and hopelessly romantic.”
The December 6 opening night performance coincides with the Princeton ArtWalk, running from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. During that time the Lewis Center will also hold a closing reception for an exhibition of new work by students in fall semester photography and graphic design courses; refreshments will be served. The other venues in the ArtWalk’s self-guided evening of arts activities in the downtown and on the University campus include the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton University Art Museum, the Bernstein Gallery at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Firestone Library, Historic Morven, Historical Society of Princeton, Labyrinth Books, Princeton Public Library, and Small World Coffee.
Tickets for Kiss Me, Kate!: A Concert Performance are $12 general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and are available through the Princeton University Ticketing by calling 609.258.9220 or on-line at www.princeton.edu/utickets/, or at the Frist Campus Center Ticket Office.
Photo caption: Evan Thompson as Fred and Catherine Cohen as Lilli in a concert version of Cole Porter’s musical, Kiss Me, Kate at the Lewis Center for the Arts.
Photo credit: Photo by Marcos Cisneros ‘15