Kiss me, Kate

Porter classic christens new Union Theater

Marisa Comeau-Kerege, Arts Editor

After being closed for two years of renovation, the Wisconsin Union Theater reopens with a Four Seasons production of “Kiss Me, Kate,” Aug. 22-24.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Union Theater and what better way to celebrate than putting on a show that gives a nod back to one of the first productions at the Union Theater.  In October 1939, the theater opened up its first season with a production of “Taming of the Shrew” on top of the bill.  “Kiss Me, Kate,” being inspired by the backstage lives and quarrels of the infamous Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne of the original “Taming of the Shrew,” seemed to be the obvious choice to celebrate these many years of musical theater.

“There was no other choice… How better to pay homage to the 75 years of history in that original opening night than for us to do Cole Porter’s ‘Kiss Me, Kate,’” said Sarah Marty, the Producing Artistic Director of Four Seasons, in an interview on University of the Air.

“Kiss Me,Kate” is about a company putting on a musical production of “Taming of the Shrew.”  The director, producer and lead actor Fred Graham hires his ex wife, Lilli Vanessi, to play the lead actress, and the war begins.  The two share an obvious animosity but through the lives of the characters they play, things start to change.

Madison College’s own Miranda Hawk, college instructor and director of the production, shares Marty’s passion for this performance and encourages all to experience this depiction of love.  “…It’s a great story.  It’s an excuse to cheer for the magic and passion of love, and the portrayal of love in this show is not pretty.  There are parts that make you go, ‘Really?’ but you can identify with all of it.”

Hawk also hopes to bring back a lot of what she has learned from this process to her instruction in the classroom.  After putting most of her efforts into the theater program at Madison College for the past few years, she enjoys the chance to really cut her teeth on the real world of community theater.  Hawk explains how the show has really given her a new and refined perspective of everything a professional actor or crew member must go through from the audition process to the rehearsals and performances, especially at the high stakes level and standards Four Seasons holds all of members to, “I will be able to bring back the trenches and what we are trying to prepare our students to do.”

Although this show is only open for one short weekend, the celebration of this timeless classic as well as the history relived in the new Union Theater is sure to live on.