Arts Reviews Culture

Review: Kiss Me Kate, Wales Millennium Centre

Kiss Me, Kate, Tuesday 6th December, Wales Millennium Centre. Reviewer: Rachel Nurse. 

1940s Baltimore and it’s op’nin’ night of a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Rehearsals are over, costumes donned and there’s a 10 minute curtain call. What you’re about to witness is a whole lot more than Shakespeare’s comic love story…”

Welsh National Opera’s Autumn season featured three productions inspired by William Shakespeare, as part of the official Shakespeare 400 celebrations to commemorate the 400thanniversary of the bard’s death. After playing host to Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice in September, the season is completed at Wales Millennium Centre with Cole Porter’s classic musical Kiss Me, Kate. A co-production with Opera North, Kiss Me, Kate pays homage to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, featuring show-stopping numbers from a mix of operatic and West End singers, alongside the renowned WNO Chorus and Orchestra.

Kiss Me Kate was certainly a cultural experience and an interesting adaption of The Taming of The Shrew. I enjoyed the show on the whole: the orchestra were brilliant, no note was played incorrectly and the effect of the instrumentalists showed excellently within the performance. The supporting orchestra brought humour and charm throughout the performance, which featured both dancing and singing numbers.

With a story full of wit, hit songs and humour, Kiss Me, Kate is guaranteed to raise a smile and acts as the perfect introduction to opera, for those of you who are new to the genre. The story revolves around the fiery relationship of leading lady Lilli Vanessi/Katherine and charming leading man Fred Graham/Petruchio as they prepare to stage a musical version of The Taming of The Shrew.

I particularly enjoyed the part of the show where the performers re-enact The Taming of the Shrew, but at times the back story became puzzling and the audience may, at times, have felt the same. However, the combination of a high-octane cast combined with the feel-good vibes of music by Cole Porter performed by the WNO orchestra meant that this was a dazzling and grand performance. Amelia Adams-Pearce who played Lois Lane/Bianca was outstanding – her singing voice and acting were flawless and she made the show so much more enjoyable and unique. ‘Why can’t you behave?’ was most definitely a show-stopper and humoured the audience perfectly. By the near-end of the song, everyone was joining in with the chorus.

The acting was exceptional, overall, although the back story was confusing and lost the audience’s involvement at times. The opening and the finale were long-winded, yet the musical numbers were perfectly performed with gusto.

by Rachel Nurse