There’s nothing like the feeling of going to see a musical by one of the best composers EVER for the VERY FIRST TIME and knowing NOTHING about it but excitedly anticipating how very WONDERFUL it will be! All of those instant classic songs waiting to become earworms! Those characters you can’t forget! The dancing! The magic!
And then, I’m afraid, there was my trip to Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic. I admit, my primary reason for going was actually seeing Clive Rowe – my number one theatrical pal was in town and we were both hoping to catch Clive on stage (since he was taking a break from dame-ing at the Hackney Empire). Oddly, my friend and I have exactly opposite tastes when it comes to Cole Porter, as I love him, while Jonathan … well, he likes Rent.
But … but … I walked out of this show scratching my head. What was really so great about the songs at all? Now, both “Too Hot” and its associated dance number were fabulous, and “Always True to You in My Fashion” was classic bad girl material, but … I love Porter for his fantastically witty lyrics and rhyme schemes, which seemed generally NOT PRESENT. Did he just run out of creative juice between 1934 and 1948? Who in the world pronounces “Bianca” the way he suggests?
And, I hate to say it, but … the show dragged. I got bored. I’d be briefly engaged again, and there’d be some kind of uninspiring dialogue. Then FOOF there’d be some great stagecraft (I loved the sets and the costumes ALERT DAMNING WITH FAINT PRAISE) but AGH OH NO it’s Holly Dale Spencer overacting Lois again MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP!
Now, Hannah Waddington was lovely and had a great voice (and looked fantastic) and there was some (but not enough) chemistry with her and Alex Bourne but Clive was woefully underused, and it’s wrong, wrong I tell you, to see a musical of this position in the canon and walk out thinking, “I’m so glad I only paid £16 to see that.)
(This review is for a performance that took place on Monday, December 10th, 2012. It continues through March 2nd.)