By Morgan Bryce
The Opelika High Theatre Society will bring a touch of Broadway to Alabama with its spring production of “Kiss Me Kate.”
Written by the husband-and-wife playwright team of Samuel and Bella Spewack, the play is a longtime Broadway hit, winning the 1948 Tony Award for Best Musical. However, “Kiss Me Kate” is best known for its soundtrack, which features compositions by one of America’s most enduring musical figures, Cole Porter.
The storyline focuses on a theatre ensemble preparing for a musical rendition of the William Shakespeare classic, “The Taming of the Shrew.” During the play, audiences witness the drama that unfolds on and off-stage between show director, producer and star Fred Graham and the show’s female lead and his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi.
Graham has a crush on Lois Lane, an attractive young actress who is slated to play Bianca in their production. Lois’s boyfriend, Bill, who is also supposed to perform in the play, loses a gambling game and places a $10,000 IOU on Graham. Through the course of the production, love proves that it conquers all, including angry, money-seeking mobsters.
OHTS Director Revel Gholston said he believes the play’s charm, aesthetics and storyline will take audiences back to a simpler place and time.
“Essentially, ‘Kiss Me Kate’ is a play within a play. Half the time, the audience is watching backstage drama between members of the production, and the other half is the musical,” Gholston said. “… it definitely features the stereotypical characters of a loud, arrogant director to an older female lead who’s getting on toward the end of her career, and it is definitely a traditional throwback musical in its form.”
Featuring a cast of more than 30 players, Gholston said portions of the music will be contributed by the OHS Jazz Band, under the direction of the school’s band director, Neil Sasser.
Gholston said Kiss Me Kate’s production is the realization of a 17-year-long personal dream, and he said he expects audiences to be wowed by his students’ performances.
“This show was one of my favorites that I’ve never done. It’s always been 1 or 1A on my list of things to do … so this is something that’s been a long time coming,” Gholston said. “I want people to laugh a lot. The cleverness and wit of the show is something, I hope, that leaves a little smirk on their face… but more than anything, I want them to enjoy the evening, which should be a very enjoyable experience.”
There will be five shows held at the Opelika Center for the Performing Arts April 12-15: Thursday and Friday, shows begin at 7 p.m., a double-header Saturday, with shows at 3 and 7 p.m. and Sunday’s show at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at Victory Designs, the OHS and OPAC offices or from participating students.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 334-745-9715. The OPAC is located at 1700 Lafayette Parkway.