Spring is in the air, which means WCU’s spring musical has taken the stage once again to feature this year’s Department of Stage and Screen’s production, “Kiss Me, Kate” – a lively Broadway show that surely added some spice to the Cullowhee valley.
The play placed a dramatic emphasis on humor with some toe-tapping, knee-slapping fun amidst a rigorous battle of the sexes. Frederick C. Graham, the leading male role played by senior musical theater major Patrick Detloff, is staging a production of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” at a theater, while behind the scenes of Shakespeare, some real life drama unfolds.
In the staged world of Shakespeare, Frederick Graham (Detloff) plays the role of a bachelor Petruchio, and Shakespeare’s Katherine (“Kate”) is played by his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi, a role that WCU musical theater major Casey Weems brought to life as a shrill woman who could be described as “shrewd.”
While Weems brought both elegance and glamour to her female character, Fred and Lilli as a couple didn’t have quite the same poise. After a ferocious divorce, Lilli enjoys flaunting to her former lover (whom she is still in love with) that she is engaged to an Army General, who you later learn is sleeping with another actress behind the scenes.
The production of “The Taming of the Shrew” is scattered in between the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, which involve a couple of hilarious gangsters. Throughout the show the audience constantly wonders if Fred and Lilli can avoid beating the hell out of each other on stage – enough so to get to the final curtain.
With hilarious scenes involving Lilli throwing objects, shattering picture frames, and chasing men and women with brooms, Frederick is left to fight back – both as himself and as Petruchio – both who must face the uncontrollable wrath of Lilli.
The two productions eventually intertwine when “Kate” realizes that she is about to marry a man fit to be “Petruchio,” who is nothing like Frederick, the man who still has her heart. It’s the classic mind vs. heart relationship, and in the end Lilli goes with her unavoidable feelings that bring her into a world that no longer reveals the Shakespearean comedy.
“Kiss Me, Kate” gave us fighting and drama this year, so there is no telling what will be on the stage next year. Western has never seen a production quite like this before, which is proof that WCU students can expect many more extravagant spring musicals in the future.