Tom Hewitt, Lesli Margherita, Meg Gillentine and Seán Martin Hingston are the Broadway and West End stars that lead the cast of Reprise Theatre Company's third production of the 2011-2012season, "Kiss Me, Kate", playing May 10 to 22 (press opening May 11, 2011) at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. The musical - with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Samuel and Bella Spewack will be directed by Michael Michetti, co-artistic director of The Theatre @ Boston Court and choreographed by Lee Martino. Michael Paternostro will serve as musical director.
Tom Hewitt received both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for his performance as Frank N Furter in the recent Broadway revival of "The Rocky Horror Show." Other Broadway credits include Billy Flynn in "Chicago," Dracula in "Dracula: The Musical," "The Boys from Syracuse," Scar in "The Lion King," "The School for Scandal," and "The Sisters Rosenzweig." Off Broadway, Hewitt received an Outer Critics' nomination for "Beau Jest" and he was the recipient of the Touring Broadway Award and for the national tour of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."
Lesli Margherita received the 2009 Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performer in a Musical for her portrayal of ‘Inez' in the new musical "Zorro", which played at the Garrick Theater in London's West End. National tour and regional theater credits include starring roles in "Spamalot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "She Loves Me," and for Reprise Theatre Company, "Damn Yankees" and "Zorba." Margherita played Gloria Thorpe in the Reprise production of "Damn Yankees."
Meg Gillentine was last seen at Pasadena Playhouse playing Diana in the new musical, "Dangerous Beauty." Other credits include the First National Tour of "Fosse" and the Los Angeles company of "The Producers" starring Jason Alexander and Martin Short. Regional Credits include Lola in "Damn Yankees" and Tintinabula in "A Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Forum" both with Reprise Theatre Company. Gillentine was the recipient of the Helen Hayes Award for her portrayal of Lola in "Damn Yankees" at Arena Stage.
Seán Martin Hingston has appeared on Broadway in "Promises, Promises;" "Curtains;" "Contact;" and "Crazy For You." His New York City theatre credits include "The Cocoanuts;" "A Connecticut Yankee," "Promises, Promises," "Boys From Syracuse," and "Li'l Abner" for Encores! ; "Broadway by the Year - 1930, 1978,1964;" "Kristin Chenoweth" at Carnegie Hall, The Met, and Walt Disney Concert Hall; "Bernadette Peters at Carnegie Hall;" and "The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" at Radio City.
The rest of the cast of "Kiss Me, Kate" includes: Joseph Almohaya, Eydie Alyson, Bradley Benjamin, Jennifer Brasuell, Gene Brundage, Mark Capri, Callie Carson, Jessica Carter, Ray Garcia, Scott Alan Hislop, Christine Horn, Justin Jones, Craig Michael Lucas, Michael A. Motroni, Candy Olsen, Roland Rusinek, Herschel Sparber, Jerald Vincent, Steve Vinovich, and Jay Brian Winnick.
Jason Alexander, Artistic Director of Reprise Theatre Company, says, " ‘Kiss Me, Kate' is a battle of the sexes reaching as far back as Shakespeare's time and magnified through the maniacal egos of two gigantic theatrical stars vying for top billing, accolades and the upper hand in their own flamboyant relationship."
When "Kiss Me, Kate" first opened on Broadway in late 1948 it revitalized Cole Porter's career and became his biggest hit.
"Kiss Me, Kate" came about when a novice producer, Saint Subber, thought there might be a show about a star acting couple off-stage and on-stage, after working on a production of "Taming Of The Shrew" with the on-again-off-again, famed acting team Lynn Fontaine and Alfred Lunt. He then engaged librettists Sam and Bella Spewack and composer-lyricist Cole Porter to create "Kiss Me, Kate".
In 1937, eleven years before "Kate", Cole Porter had suffered a devastating horse accident in which both of his legs were crushed. This led him into a depression where the "cure" included him being one of the first patients to experience electric shock therapy. While he still found some success, his career began to wind down, and after two back-to-back flops ("Seven Lively Arts" in 1944 and "Around The World" in 1946), there was much speculation about his career being over. But then he was engaged to write the score for "Kate". It won the first Best Musical Tony Award and has a score that boasts "So In Love," "Why Can't You Behave?" "Another' Openin' Another Show," and "Too Darn Hot," among others. Saint Subber went onto produce Broadway shows for another 35 years, including many of Neil Simon's early hit comedies.
Single tickets are available for "Kiss Me, Kate" at www.reprise.org or through the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310/825-2101.
Photo Credit: Ed Kreiger