Cole Porter’s famous musical Kiss Me, Kate opened on Sunday at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Kiss Me, Kate celebrates William Shakespeare by presenting a musical production of The Taming of the Shrew within the story. The play counts with famous Cole songs such as “I Hate Men,” “Too Darn Hot,” and “Brush up your Shakespeare,” and it speaks of the crazy, yet rewarding, life of artists working in the theatre.
Wayne Brady as Fred/Petruchio
Wayne Brady, of “Let’s Make a Deal” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway” fame, stars as Fred/Petruchio. He does a great job not only with his singing but by adding the physical comedy that he is well known for into his character. He is funny and likeable, and on Sunday received a warm standing ovation from the crowd.
Principal ladies – Merle Dandrige
Yet as good as Brady is, better for him that this is not a singing competition or the principal ladies in the cast would have made it a tough one. Merle Dandrige (Broadway’s Spamalot and Tarzan) is Lilli/Kate. Her “I Hate Men” is one of the best you’ll see.
Principal ladies – Joanna A. Jones
On the other hand, Joanna A. Jones plays Lois/Blanca, and her “Always True to You – In My Fashion” is outstanding. Jones was a finalist on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” season 2. If she looks familiar to you, that’s probably why.
Famous Kates that attended opening night – Patricia Morison
As it is often the case, the opening night of Kiss Me, Kate was a star studded event. Yet this night was even more significant with the presence of two ladies who had performed the role of Kate over five decades ago. Broadway’s original Kate, from 1948, Patricia Morison, aged 99, was in attendance. She is here pictured with Dandrige and Brady.
Famous Kates that attended opening night – Anne Jeffreys
Also in attendance was soprano Anne Jeffreys, aged 91, who had played Kate in 1949, replacing Patricia Morison. Those present at the opening night gave both Jeffreys and Morison standing ovations.
Diversity Award honoree Diahann Carroll
Sunday’s performance also served as the 8th annual Pasadena Playhouse Wells Fargo Theatrical Diversity Project fundraising event and prior to the performance Pasadena Playhouse’s Executive Director Elizabeth Doran presented actress Diahann Carroll with an award. Aged 79, Carroll appeared in some of the earlier major studio films to feature black actors, and in 1968 she starred in “Julia,” one of the first series on television to portray a black woman in a non-stereotypical role. Carroll spoke of the importance of the day when our society will stop asking “who” we are or “what” we are to instead consider “can he dance?” “can she sing?” “can he perform?”
Do not miss “Kiss Me, Kate!”
Kiss Me, Kate will play through October 12. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Ave, Pasadena 91101. Tickets are available online at http://www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org or by calling (626) 356-7529.