Other numbers in a popular vein that
were indeed once AM radio standards gain when highly trained voices
raise them to the top, without betraying their origins. So it is with
Damian Norfleet in the second act’s sizzling opener, “Too Darn Hot,”
and Courtney Romano’s naughty “Always True to You (In My Fashion).”
Both leads excel on their popular sides. Vroman’s novelty number, “I
Hate Men,” could be excerpted from the production and have a separate
life as a comic video for the discriminating.
Brushing up their Shakespeare: From left, David Larsen, Courtney Romano, Jonathan Fiske Hill and Robert Kerr in Kiss Me Kate. CORY WEAVER/GLIMMERGLASS OPERA
The reverse question should be: Does mounting Kiss Me Kate
as an opera diminish any of the demotic fun? Well, it’s good to
remember that the word “zany” originates from the Italian word for the
kinds of clowns found in operas. The soft-shoe duet, “Brush Up Your
Shakespeare,” sung by the two debt-collecting thugs, played by Michael
Mott and Bradley Nacht, still stops the second act. The duo earn even
more laughs from an improvised last verse, “Brush Up Your Opera,” with
convoluted Porteresque rhymes flacking the company’s other offerings of
An even gutsier spoof is directed toward
Vroman’s sparkling upper range. She keeps reaching for higher and
higher notes, as if in a contest with a lark ascending—until Nacht’s
gangster pulls out his pistol and plugs the winged creature, who falls
to the stage with a thud.
Stage director Diane Paulus’ sense of visual wit never fails her, making Kiss Me Kate feel
fresher than its 60 years would imply. Like the scene where Vroman’s
Lilli/Kate shoots at the men with a gun filled with colored tennis
balls. Bella and Samuel Spewack’s book for the show began as an
elaborate in-joke on the off-stage lives of former theater legends
Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne while simultaneously being a
life-imitates-art send-up of The Taming of the Shrew . In this
effervescent restaging it feels far in advance of its time.
Incidentally, the program lists Brad Little’s hometown as Syracuse and
Lisa Vroman’s as Watertown.