The International Writers Magazine:Production Diary and Review
ME KATE Production Diary Jan 24th- Feb 12th- 2005
James Ryder on
Portsmouth University Creative Arts Music Drama
And so it begins. The great musical quest that is Kiss Me Kate.
From audition to performance in 3 weeks. A real challenge if ever I saw
one. There will be no shortage of blood sweat and tears in the next 15
days. And who is here to mop it up?
The scripts were read and the rabble of a cast sized up their potential
roles. It was obvious from the start that some people were set to take
this a lot more seriously than others. As I stumbled into Wiltshire building
early Tuesday morning I expected to be one of the first there and so was
surprised to find others in the studio. And even more worryingly. Dancing
in it. These people had not just arrived. They had been there some time.
And judging by the perspiration on them they had been there since the
The auditions themselves passed in the usual whirlwind of panic, nerves
and some strangely calm people. Performances went well and many went bad.
It was all over in less than a couple of hours. We would have to wait
until the next morning for the results. Our fate would be presented to
us then. Most of the cast accepted their roles without complaint. Some
of the second years faked surprise at their lead roles and there were
tears in the eyes of the first years that didnt get them. A thundercloud
followed one dancer around for the remainder of the week. Murder on the
dance floor looks possible.
With the roles allocated things started to really get crazy. More singing
and dancing than the average person could take. Legs ached, throats got
sore and attention spans shortened. There were many whispers of why
exactly did we get involved in this? work hard play hard became
the motto and days were long but nights longer. Dark eyes and hangovers
forced from the body by early morning dance warm-ups.
Week 2 was also when the shit really hit the fan. An intensive rehearsal
schedule led to frayed tempers and the mask began to slip. The pressure
encouraged tears from many parties. An imaginary sweepstake was established
on who would crack first.
The stage was painted and costumes adjusted. It began to look like we
had a show on our hands. Production week came round far too quickly with
the promise of 12-hour days. There was panic amongst the troops. The high
pace of final rehearsals became too much. Autopilot kicked in and like
singing dancing zombies we paraded around the stage. The energy was gone.
The dress rehearsal resembles a roller coaster. Everyone climbs aboard
and tries to enjoy the ride. We try to brace ourselves for the turns and
scream in the right places but know one knows what will happen. The brakes
are off. There will be ups and downs. That much we know for sure. We just
have to hold on tight and hope for the best. For ultimately we are only
pretending to be in control. Some people seemed to possess a better illusion
of control than others. Maybe they had studied the ride before climbing
on. Other members of the cast seemed to have come to the ride blindfolded,
and are refusing to remove it now there strapped in.
The performances themselves passed in a tidal wave of adrenaline and emotion.
Unpredictable audiences laughing in the wrong places but clapping in all
the right ones. The strange world of theatre.
My notes on the after-show party are limited due to the alcohol I consumed
clouding my fragile memory. Hyperactivity was defiantly a theme. A chance
to let the hair down and goddamn we had earned it. I had hoped for scandal
and drama but witnessed little. Maybe I was constantly looking the wrong
direction. A makeshift stage provided me with most of the entertainment.
A room of attention seekers couldnt resist. For a group of people
who had been taught to dance for the last 3 weeks some of the dance moves
were appalling. 70% enthusiasm and 30% talent. But hey we had our fun.
I sit here on this dark Sunday afternoon. And I look back on all that
we have achieved. From nothing to an amazing performance in no time at
all. The aching in my head and the sleepless haze of my eyes will fade.
But the sense of satisfaction will remain. Its been one hell of
a ride but Im glad I climbed on board.
now The Review
Me Kate by Cole Porter
Performed at the New Theatre Royal - Portsmouth
Feb 10-12th 2005
Under the Direction of Dominic Symonds (Stage) George Burrows
The musical show
for the Creative Arts Drama department at the University of Portsmouth
this year was Kiss Me Kate, an adaptation of Shakespeares
Taming of the Shrew. The theme focuses on a group of struggling
actors who are performing the well known play but with similar problems
of their own. The performance opened with an all cast number in which
the scene was established as the Fords Theatre in Central Baltimore.
With our two leads, Ben Macpherson (Frederick Graham) and Emily Wilson
(Lilli vanessi), playing to a professional degree, the humour and our
true love were accepted, even though, to some extent, they were both
characters that we loved to hate. The experience of the two actors was
self-evident. Also performing to a high standard were Fiona Poustie
as Bianca and Elliot Davis and Tara Smith as two gangsters. Out of all
of the characters, the gangsters were by far the best and towards the
second half, could have carried the show on their own with their theme
song 'Brush up your Shakespeare'.
Throughout our adventure, we got to explore the likes of Le Auld Café
Parisien, which was a great touch and the balconies were used to great
effect as houses and viewing booths for the directors of the Taming
of the Shrew. What was also so brilliant about the show, was the
use of well known show stoppers which at times, the audience were able
to sing along to and allowed the sense of character to build, two of
the most appealing songs being, "I Hate Men." and "Its
Too Darn Hot.".
The numbers never stopped rolling in, with a new song and statement
around every corner and the formation of what was destined to be an
everlasting love. Just when we think that the characters are on the
path to their happily ever after, a new intervention commences, ranging
from the entrance of the two gangsters to the mis-sent flowers to our
ultimate luvvie, Lilli Vanessi. After all, it never is an easy path
Special mentions must also go out to Annaliese Budimir, with her debut
solo as well as Alex Hillman who managed to play the two characters
of the Jester and Harrison Howell. All of the characters managed to
maintain a strong American accent throughout ranging from typical American
to Boston to Southern drawl.
The enthusiasm of the cast was excellent, however there were some problems
concerning the poor sound coordination, in other words, depending on
where you were sitting, the orchestra was too loud for the singing and
was also placed in an awkward position which blocked some of the view
for the audience.
With its exciting numbers, great accents, obvious humour and great
choreography, this show is definitely one of the best and most entertaining
that the university has performed. With minor adjustments on the sound
and orchestra placement, it is clear that this would provide entertainment
for all ages of audience. If you had the enjoyment of seeing this show
then I am sure that you would agree, it really is a great night out
at the theatre.
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