Saw the Prom production of Kiss Me, Kate
with Ben Davis as lead/director Fred Graham, Alexandra Silber as leading leady Lilli Vanessi, Tony Yazbeck as the gambling Bill Calhoun and Louise Dearman as the flirty Lois Lane, John Wilson Orchestra providing the music. You may remember my thoughts on the Chris Hunt one
Due to being in the Albert Hall, only a few props like tables and no background but that isn't a problem and it allows them to play off the conductor once or twice. For TV, they have a great credit sequence but they use a similar technique to indicate a scene change and to set things up at the start, all fine (indeed most scene changes are done subtly) but in first five minutes, an explaining card seems to appear every minute. Good costumes, good dancers and it has the big songs.
I felt the song "Too Darn Hot" summed up the differences between the two productions: The Chris Hunt one was fell of sex, it sizzled as the men danced for the ladies, the words a cry of sex and frustration. It also seemed to be 650 verses long as it went well past it's sell by date. The Prom one never had that pace problem but, despite the words and the actions (this was a production that slapped bottoms), there was no sizzle or sex appeal. Or "Always True to You in My Fashion" as in the former, Nancy Kathryn Anderson played it with love, sex appeal and comedy, a twinkle in her eye but again, went on too long. Dearman managed to keep the pace right, it never had the wishing it was end feeling, indeed it was jolly and fun but on the other hand, it simply lacked the brilliance of Anderson's version.
Despite having the words, the bottom slapping and the actions, this felt like a production that had lost the sex and the innuendo. Pacing was far far better and it was a nice enough show, one and a half good romances (due to the females mostly), decent songs, fine cast, it jollied along. It was really lacking in comedy, the jokes never fired and only Silber ever felt funny, she couldn't do prop comedy, but her raging Katherine was amusing.
Of the main four, Ben Davies was a fairly decent romantic figure without having great chemistry with his leading lady, a good singer but lacked a comic touch. Silber needs to work on prop comedy but she was amusing (no Rachel York but still good), she had some strong romantic moments, a good singer but tended to go too high for my taste. Yazbeck is a good singer and dancer but, understandable given the surprisingly small role, didn't stand out otherwise. Dearman probably gave the best song with her sad "Why Can't You Behave?" and was a good singer, did the flirty bits reasonably well and made a jolly presence.
It was a nice enough production.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”