BY CARY GINELL
Cabrillo Music Theatre held a “First Rehearsal Party” last night at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts where cast and crew members were introduced in preparation for the beginning of the rehearsal process for Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate,” which began directly after the party. During the presentation, the ensemble performed “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” and cast member Reba Buhr sang a delightful rendering of Lois Lane’s solo “Always True to You in My Fashion.” Cabrillo’s artistic director Lewis Wilkenfeld is particularly excited about the staging of “Kiss Me, Kate.” As he told the audience, this is one of three major musicals that have not yet been produced during the 20-year history of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (the other two are “Show Boat” and “Brigadoon.”) During the festivities, director Richard Israel talked more about the show:
ISRAEL: When people think about “Kiss Me Kate,” there is a preconceived notion that it is “that Cole Porter show with the dancing and the singing. I think I know what that is.” What we’re setting out to do is confound your expectations of what the show is. If you think you know what the show is all about, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. The script we are doing is from the 1999 revival. And I have to say that I’ve looked at both the old and the new scripts and the reality is that this show is timeless. When I get a script, especially for a show like this that’s sort of “chest-nutty,” the first thing I do is look at it and say “What do I have to get rid of because it’s not going to make any sense?” And there’s always something that a contemporary audience isn’t going to be able to scan. As for this script? There’s nothing. Everything is very timely and it makes sense. It’s weird. Cole Porter and Bella & Sam Spewak were very prescient and the show has a timelessness and freshness to it that is strangely right for 2013.”
Musical director Darryl Archibald discussed the score.
ARCHIBALD: “Kiss Me, Kate” won the very first Tony for Best Musical in 1949. When it was revived in 1999, it won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, so it is really a great show. We are doing the updated version, which was arranged by Don Sebesky, who has been nominated around 33 times for Grammys and has won three. He won a Tony for the orchestrations for this particular version of the show. His version is a little more jazzy and also a little more lush than it was originally. In the show, you get everything from traditional musical theater standards to huge jazz dance numbers, vaudeville, and in the show-within-a-show, which is Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” you get pavanes and Renaissance music as well. The ensemble has to sing all of this plus a little opera, too. We have a full orchestra so there will be a lot of music coming out from the pit. A lot of theaters do shows with the dreaded “tracks,” meaning recorded music. But what I love about doing things with Cabrillo is that I get to stand in front of a real orchestra, playing the real orchestrations.
Wilkenfeld promised some other surprises for the premiere of the production, so stay tuned to VC On Stage for continued coverage, interviews, and a review of the performance.
Cabrillo Music Theatre’s “Kiss Me, Kate” runs for nine performances, from October 18 to 27. For dates and show times, see our Calendar of Events.