The Priory Fine Arts Department celebrated 20 years of the Kevin Kline Theatre with the production of “Kiss Me, Kate,” a musical that ran February 16-19. Music and lyrics are by Cole Porter, and the original production was a comeback and personal triumph for Porter. It proved to be his biggest hit and the only one of his shows to run for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway.
“Kiss Me, Kate,” tells the story of two one-married, now-divorced musical theater actors, Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi, who are performing opposite each other in a Broadway-bound musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The pair begin an all-out emotional war mid-performance when Lilli discovers Fred sent his latest fling, Lois Lane, Lilli’s wedding bouquet. The only thing keeping the show together are threats from a pair of gangsters: Lois’s steady boyfriend, Bill Calhoun, loves to gamble, and to avoid the responsibility of paying his debts has signed Fred’s name to an IOU. Gangsters have come to collect on it, and this show will provide the money that Fred needs to avoid getting his fingers broken. In classical musical comedy fashion, madness ensues.
Priory seniors Connor Donnelly (Fred Graham), Collin Limp (Bill Calhoun), Paul Trebing (Pops the Doorman), and Gregory Jones (Philip) capped their musical theater careers at Priory with wonderful performances. Juniors Danny Weissert and Joey Mathis stole the show with their brilliant renditions of the two hapless gangsters, complete with Bronx accents, dance skills, and perfect comedic timing. Sophomore Patrick LaVallee led a rousing nearly-full-cast dance routine to “Too Darn Hot.” Congratulations to all of them, and to Robbie Frei, Jacob Cichelero, Wilmsen Craig, Andrew Johnson, Noah Mollett, Jamie O’Brien, Ian Rosebrough, William Steussie, Andrew Stein, Anthony Jones, and Ian Crossey for their great performances.
Sophomore Wil Craig said, “We kept getting better, less nervous, and by Saturday it was fun.” Mrs. Raley, Fine Arts Department Chair and theatre instructor, agreed. “It’s kind of like becoming state champions in sports. You get better and better as you go. By Saturday, they really knew what they were doing, and Sunday was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, that was our last performance!”
Congratulations to the crew, too, for creating wonderful scenery and for making the musical seem like magic on the stage: Anthony O’Sullivan, Wildes Rempe, Tommy Messmer, Robert Bordeaux, Alexander McAuliffe, Thomas Clear, Thomas de Wolff, Peter Hedlesky, Andrew Heim, Dominic Kolthoff, Henry Rosebrough, Sean Moen, Kevin Flores, Jacob Mercer, Jimmy Fox, Adam Saleh, Paul Villa, Thomas Fonseca, Christopher Wetzel, Cal Fiala, Petey Kraemer, and Eli Swift.
Mrs. Raley said, “We had a great cast and crew. They really jelled, and are an awesome group of kids. They enjoyed being with each other, and even exchanged Secret Santa gifts at Christmas. We had fun through the whole experience, even while the cast and crew worked really hard.”
Special thanks to Father Michael for his cameo appearance as the baseball bat-wielding cab driver, looking for his two-dollar fare from Bill Calhoun.