Art Deco –style illustration of a dance number in the Broadway musical, "Kiss Me Kate."
Mount Greylock Regional School will transport audiences back to the Golden Age of Broadway next weekend with its production of “Kiss Me, Kate.” Opening is Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. in the high school’s auditorium. Additional performances run March 1 and March 2.

Cole Porter Classic “Kiss Me, Kate” Opens at Mt. Greylock Regional

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional School will transport audiences back to the Golden Age of Broadway next weekend with its production of “Kiss Me, Kate.”

The beloved Cole Porter musical centers on a formerly married acting duo, Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi, playing opposite one another in a musical version of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” As with the show’s inspiration — a sparring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne during their 1935 production of “Shrew” — Fred and Lilli’s on-stage chemistry belies nonstop off-stage conflict.

Egotistical director Fred faces additional headaches dealing with his flirtatious co-star Lois Lane while trying to keep the show’s opening night from devolving into total chaos.

Contacted by e-mail, Welch explained what attracted him to Kiss Me, Kate for this year’s musical. “Several things, really,” he said. “It is funny, where last year’s musical, Oliver, was somewhat more serious. It has room for a big cast, which we have; our program has grown steadily over the last several years. We have a cast of 39 (!). Also, a lot of my seniors are ‘Shakespeare kids’ who participate in the fall production every year- and this is a play about putting on a Shakespeare play. Plus, Cole Porter made his home in Williamstown.”

Along the way, the musical delivers some of Porter’s wittiest tunes, including “Why Can’t You Behave?”, “Too Darn Hot” and “So in Love.”

The show nabbed the first-ever Tony for Best Musical in 1949. Broadway producer Arnold Saint-Subber first conceived it after witnessing the Lunts’ combustible “Shrew” performances. He recruited writing partners Bella and Sam Spewack plus composer Cole Porter to transform the idea into a stage production.


Kiss Me Kate

Where:Mt. Greylock Regional School

February 29 through March 2, Mount Greylock Regional School brings the Golden Age of Broadway alive with ‘Kiss Me, Kate.’

As for how the players have worked to gear up for such a complicated and demanding production, Welch shares, “They usually watch the film outside of school (which isn’t by any means a requirement, but with streaming services these days it’s accessible), although the stage version differs somewhat from the 1953 film; most of those splashy mid-20th-century musicals are that way.”

Additionally, when you take out February vacation, the rehearsal schedule is fairly aggressive. Students worked from released digital accompaniment tracks so that they could prepare outside of school.

“Thankfully,” Welch noted, “the kids have stayed healthy, we’ve avoided snow days (much to their chagrin) and most rehearsal days have been ‘all calls.’ The cast is on stage for quite a bit of the show, so we needed all hands on deck most days singing, dancing, and acting to get the show done.”

Reflecting on what place he finds this work has in 2024 — what lessons, themes, etc. resonate today, Welch comments, “The show has undergone some revisions and revivals since the original release to remove some of the more outdated social conventions and prescriptions. At its core, it is a play about theater people who are human, and who are finding a way to relate to one another.

Taken as a whole the musical creates a set of nested stories in which Greylock students work together to play the roles of a cast that must work together for the good of the show, which, observes Welch, is one of the most important lessons of theater as an endeavor.

He explained, “The main characters learn, in the end, to set aside ego for affection and understanding. It has all of the classic tropes of entertainment; comedy, farce, physicality, romance, power struggle, and mistaken identities and situations.”

The production team includes music teacher and musical director Jacqueline Vinette, musician Luke Oliveri, and student choreographer Levi Cohen-McFall.

Tickets purchased online in advance cost $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for non-district students. The show is free for Mount Greylock students.

Proceeds from concessions and a cash-only raffle will go toward school arts programming.

Jason Velázquez

Jason Velázquez has worked in print and digital journalism and publishing for two decades.
Phone: (413) 776-5125

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