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Round Two

roundtwoThe curtain rises for ‘Kiss Me Kate’

When the words “Kiss Me” are in a play title, you can expect fireworks, chemistry and plenty of romantic tension. All of the above, of course, create the perfect fodder for a musical, and that’s exactly what Cabrillo Stage has tapped into with its second summer production this year, “Kiss Me Kate.” Staged in the  Cabrillo College Theater, the show will be a much larger scale production than “Little Shop of Horrors,” which is showing until July 22 at the Erica Schilling Forum on the Cabrillo College campus. The classic story follows two couples that are starring in “The Taming of the Shrew.”  In essence, it’s a behind-the-scenes look at a behind-the-scenes play, featuring quarreling lovers. Is there anything better to see onstage?

Director Janie Scott is at the helm of “Kiss Me Kate.” This time around, Scott lends her powerful choreography skills and her directorial arm to help “Kiss Me Kate” find its home in the hearts of Santa Cruzans. Artistic director Jon Nordgren oversees musical direction and the always Project Runway-ready Thomas G. Marquez creates an array of costumes for Kate and company.

Scott’s been seen numerous times both in front of the curtain and behind it in the Aptos venue but the tally finds her coming in at six shows. She’s flown through the air as Peter Pan in that classic Neverland play, and she put “Guys and Dolls” together last year. In her “day job,” she works in the School of Music and Dance as a professor at San Jose State University. She’s often one of the reasons why actors try out for these plays. She has a sturdy reputation as being enormously generous with her actors, thus creating an optimal work experience for them.

“‘Kiss Me Kate’ is a show that’s been on my list of projects,” Scott says. “It was one of the first shows I choreographed at 19 years old. … This was the right time for it to happen. … Shakespeare’s characters have an absolute parallel to today’s world and life, and there’s something very real to the story.”

As for working with the actors who play Kate and Fred, Scott is impressed. Teressa Byrne, an actress with a connection to the Bay Area, is playing Kate. Byrne grew up in the Monterey area. And Fred (Joe Kinyon) is also something of a local boy—he’s from Concord. “They each bring marvelous things to the table,” Scott says. “Joe comes in with a wealth of vocal and operatic experience. Teressa is just phenomenally strong, and a terrific actress with a wonderful capability. Kate can often be a difficult role to cast. It’s a very strong female role, very rangey vocally.”

The play features 28 cast members and is set in the time when it was originally written—1949.

As for actor Joe Kinyon on playing the roles of Fred and Petrucio, he says, Fred Graham is the actor/star/director/producer of this play within a play.

“He’s sort of a failed type of actor who hasn’t really been as successful as he would have liked, whereas his costar Kate or Lilly has been quite successful,” Kinyon says. “It’s a love story and they’re both stubborn people, and they play these little games, trying to make each other jealous.”

Does Kinyon have anything in common with his arrogant onstage persona? Nope. He even admits that there were people who were concerned that he wasn’t mean enough to play the role. But it seems that Kinyon has worked on his mean streak and is bringing it to the stage.

Actress Teressa Byrne takes on the role of Kate and Lilly in the production. Her characters are extraordinarily temperamental. And they, like Kinyon with his characters, seem to have zilch in common. In fact, Byrne says of all the musical theater characters out there, the one she finds the most commonalities with is Sarah Brown from “Guys and Dolls.”

“She’s sort of reserved and prickly, and it takes a little while to get to know her,” Byrne says. “Crack the shell and she’s a goofball, and has deep connections to the people around her. I may personally come off as reserved, but I have a love of horrendously bad jokes.”

{ic_cal}July 20 to Aug. 19, Cabrillo College Theatre, 6500 Soquel Dr., Aptos.{/ic_cal}

{ic_info}Call 479-6154 or visit cabrillostage.com .{/ic_info}

 


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