Kiss Me, Kate: A Wealth of Talent
They Struck It Rich
With Kiss Me, Kate!
“I’ve Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua” may have been the fortune-seeking intentions of Petrucchio, a lothario who courts the unruly Kate in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, but the Sayville High School Drama and Music Departments’ production of Kiss Me, Kate definitely found treasures in the golden voices, rich acting, opulent costumes, and sparkling dancing of the outstanding cast. The production was also supported by a wealth of talent in the orchestra pit and behind-the-scenes crews.
While the musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate is about a theatrical company, circa 1948, performing a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew in Baltimore Maryland, it utilizes “the-play-within-the-play” technique of the famous Bard. Offstage the slings and arrows of love’s fortunes that assail the acting troupe parallel the onstage action within the play.
Despite snow day cancellations that dramatically tightened the production schedules, Director Steven Hailey, Musical Director Karen DiMartino, Orchestra Conductor Ari Kramer, Sound Supervisor Andy Giammalvo, Technical Advisor Ken VanEssendolft, and a supportive production staff pulled it all together to ensure the show would go on. (See the program below for the full list of cast and crew.)
And what a show it was. Blending highbrow sarcasm and lowbrow vaudevillian humor with the genius of Cole Porter and his unforgettable music, the Sayville’s production of Kiss Me Kate was Wunderbar, forsooth!
About The Cast of Sayville Players:
- Whether dealing with an angry ex-wife, fending off mobsters, or quoting Shakespeare, leading man Fred Graham/Petrucchio had a complicated life off and on stage. Acting in the lead, Sayville Senior Timothy Costorf not only mastered the central role, his superb bass baritone showcased in such favorites as Where is the Life That Late I Led, Were Thine That Special Face, Wunderbar, and So In Love was breathtakingly masterful in every performance.
- Leading lady and Graham’s ex-wife Lilli Vanessi/Kate was a part shared by two actresses Sayville Senior Meghan Gunther and Junior Savannah Votino:
- For three out of four performances, Meghan Gunther maintained a powerful presence as the untamed Kate. Acting and singing she demonstrated indefatigable physicality night after night, throwing chairs great distances across the stage in I Hate Men or wrangling with Petrucchio in Kiss Me, Kate, all the while balancing feral intensity with refined qualities and incredible musical range for songs like So in Love and Wunderbar as Lilli.
- During her performance, Savannah Votino’s portrayed Lilli with willowy gracefulness and lilting style and also showed splendid musical range for So in Love and Wunderbar. Manifesting defiance to the overbearing hierarchy of men (I Hate Men) with haughty feminine pride, Savannah’s Kate was brazen and brash in deflecting the unwanted advances of her suitor Petrucchio (Kiss Me, Kate), all in all, a very satisfying illustration of a woman emboldened with disdain.
- It was a tale of two Jillians for the role of Lois Lane/Bianca; both Sayville Juniors sang and tap danced their way into the audience’s hearts:
- On alternating nights, Jillian Dymek and Jillian Brudi were remarkably confident and thoroughly convincing as Lois, the sassy nightclub singer climbing her way into stardom by making the right ‘connections.’ While Lois scolds her love interest Bill Calhoun for his gambling problem (Why Can’t You Behave), she admits culpability for her own flirtatious tendencies (Always True to You, In My Fashion). As coquettish Bianca, the younger sister of unwed Kate, each Jillian sang Tom Dick and Harry with effervescent charm.
- Although Sayville Sophomore Jamie Baio had the role of the unlucky gambler Bill Calhoun and the lucky suitor Lucentio who wins Bianca, he didn’t just play the parts, he owned them, maintaining character in his face and form every moment he was on stage as he showcased his singing (I Sing of Love, and Bianca), dancing and acting talents with seamless ease.
- As fellow suitors for Bianca’s hand, Gremio (splendidly portrayed for amusing effect by Senior Brian Walsh) and Hortensio (Sophmore Dylan Finder also proved to be a great comic foil) blended their wonderful voices and slapstick antics for a thoroughly entertaining song-and-dance routine in Tom, Dick or Harry. Not to be left out of the comic Shakespearean scenes, Sean Velazquez spoke with eloquence as the shrewd Baptista, Kate’s father, who offered an unbeatable bargain to the suitor of his shrew daughter.
- However, there is no denying that the hilarious synergy of the two Mobsters (Senior Alex Sneddon and Junior Sean McNally) was unparalleled. Whether they were shaking down Fred Graham in a case of mistaken identity for an unpaid gambling debt, providing their analytically insightful literary criticism, or muscling Lilli when they appeared in Renaissance garb during the Shakespeare performance, the comedy team stole the show. Their uncouth underworld, Chicago-style accents (perfected by Alex and Sean) contrasted brilliantly with their cultured sensibilities for literature—a taste the gangsters apparently had acquired during their eight years of doing time, most of which was spent in the library. The dynamic duo’s final scene was a bang-up job—a song-and-dance number featuring Cole Porter’s bawdy pleasure, the magnificent Brush Up Your Shakespeare. The auditorium couldn’t help exploding with applause.
Performance night after performance night, the mobsters (Alex and Sean) improvised their comic shtick while shaking down Fred (Tim) in the dressing room scene. By the final show, Fred was excessively powder-puffed by the menacing mobsters. Also, the traditional banana gag made its appearance in the dressing room scenes: Hattie (Rowen) was eating one in Lilli’s dressing room, while Mobster 2 (Sean) finished his banana and discarded the peel on Fred’s head. Mobster 1 (Alex) rubbed it in his hair for good measure, all for laughs.
So many supporting Players rounded out the performance:
For more photos, click on the subpages at left for Monday and Tuesday Rehearsals and Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday performance.
- Senior Alyssa Lofaro and Junior Rowen Mahoney as Hattie on alternating nights literally set the stage for the evening with the opening number, Another Openin’, Another Show. Seasoned Senior Players Jake Vail gave a great performance as Fred’s Dresser Paul Reilly and led the company in Too Darn Hot, while the gifted Liam Haber as politician Harrison Howell and Lilli’s fiancé even made his one-scene cab driver role memorable, James Velazquez as Stage Manager Ralph Smith knew how to keep a straight face for comic effect, while senior Dalen Ferreira as ‘Pops’ Donovan, kept his cool when everyone else was hot. The wonderful company and dancing ensemble imbued vitality to the stage and especially made We Open In Venice exciting.