Weston High School theater group loves Kiss Me Kate


Musical director Stephanie Gaumer-Klein rehearses a song from Kiss Me Kate with the Company cast. —Debbie Rehr photo

Weston High School’s Company is well into the rehearsal process of the perennial musical theater classic Kiss Me Kate. “We’re really excited to be starting up again after the success of The Crucible,” said Company’s president, Sarah Gruen. “It’s already looking like another brilliant Weston High School Company product.”

The show-within-a-show (with a score by Cole Porter) tracks the opening of a musical version of Taming of the Shrew in Baltimore, a production featuring a formerly married pair of fading stars — Fred Graham (Jack Seigenthaler) and Lilli Vanessi (Dianna Jean Sturgis) — who find themselves helplessly falling in love once again, despite the presence of Lilli’s formidable military fiancée, General Harrison Howell (Walker Edelman).

Meanwhile, players Bill Calhoun (Bobby Eddy) and Lois Lane (Annabelle Shea) are in a feud of their own: Bill can’t seem to leave his gambling behind, and Lois is insisting he do just that, or she’s moving on.

When gangsters (Kevin MacWilliams and Chase Troxell) show up to collect Bill’s gambling debt and set their sights on the near-bankrupt Fred instead, the stage is set for an unforgettable story.

The score is filled with recognizable hits, which, according to director Damian Long, will surely please the Weston High School crowd.

Kiss Me Kate is a classic musical and a rollicking good time: a blend of backstage farce and high romance, with an unbeatable score by the legendary Cole Porter. We’re very excited to present it here at WHS,” said Mr. Long.

After casting, the group moved right into the rehearsal process, a significant commitment for those involved. Often, practice demands 10 to 15 hours a week. “We rehearse a lot, but it’s worth it in the end,” said Caroline Cannon, who plays the effervescent hairdresser Hattie.

“Everybody who’s a part of this show loves being on stage and working together to put up a great production. Cole Porter is a genius of the theater,” said Ross Cohen, who plays the energetic costumer Paul.

The show-within-a-show is something to which all the actors can connect, making the rehearsal process a lot of fun for everybody involved.

Despite Company’s enormous dedication of time to Kiss Me, Kate, there have already been some significant challenges the cast and crew have faced in terms of losing rehearsals. This, of course, comes on the heels of The Crucible, when Company lost a pivotal stretch of rehearsals just weeks before opening in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“We’ve lost five or so rehearsals since the show began due to a number of extenuating circumstances — from snow days to a lack of power in the building. This adds up in terms of hours pretty quickly,” said Sarah Gruen. However, she doesn’t foresee it as a problem by the show’s opening.

“Not only does Mr. Long know what it takes to put together a production, but the actors are devoted to doing what needs to be done to ready Kate by opening night. The Crucible was a great example of how our cast and crew can come together to put on a wonderful show, in spite of any setbacks,” said Sarah.

Performances are Friday, March 15, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 16, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m.; Friday, March 22, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, March 23, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. Tickets and information are available at whs-company.com.

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