Newbury Operatic Society - Kiss Me, Kate
14th to 18th April 2009.
From the Newbury Weekly News.
A chorus of approval
Newbury Operatic Society singers and dancers light up the stage
Newbury Operatic Society: Kiss Me, Kate, at The Corn Exchange, from Tuesday, April 14 to Saturday, April 18
There are at least two reasons why this musical, which first saw the footlights in 1948, finds favour with amateur societies. The Cole Porter score includes evergreens such as Wunderbar and So In Love, and it has an abundance of smaller roles for a society with the talent to fill them.
Certainly, NOS is not short of actors with ability and though I've no room to list all the winners in lesser parts, Tommy Fox (Paul), turning up the temperature superbly in It's Too Darn Hot, deserves particular mention.
The play within a play (The Taming of the Shrew) follows the stormy relationship between the two main characters. As shrewish Katharine/Lilli, Sarah Scott-Cound's rich musical voice was well suited to the part.
Maintaining the firecracker personality the role of virago Katharine demands to set the stage alight is a big ask and occasionally the action was static rather than fiery However, the joyful duet with jaunty-capped General Howell (Chris Austin) was a star moment.
As Fred/Petruchio, Sarah's opposite number Michael Scott-Cound commanded the role, his robust voice making an especial delight of the regretful Where is the Life That Late I Led.
Stuart Buchan as gambler (Bill/Lucentio) made a good foil to the exuberant, always entertaining Zoe Wells (flighty Lois/Bianca). Tom, Dick or Harry sung with these two, plus Gremio (Shaun Blake) and Hortensio (Scott Taylor) was particularly slick and enjoyable.
With good actors in the roles of First and Second Man they are liable to steal the show and Jeremy Mann and David Price did just that with every action and expression telling. Excellent acting.
In this beautifully-costumed show, NOS can be proud of its chorus - good singing and no glum faces - and four dancers who lit up the stage with disciplined happy movement every time they appeared, whether in the stately pavane or more energetic numbers.
Combine these two groups with the splendid orchestra, under the control of musical director Michael Evans, sensitive to everything happening on stage, and a framework for success was in place.
Jeanette Maskell's skilful direction ensured this marathon of a musical never dragged and again provided the annual treat the society's audiences expect.