‘Kiss Me Kate’ puts musical spin on Shakespeare at Polytech High School

WOODSIDE – A breath of fresh air will be breathed into the Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me, Kate” at Polytech High School starting tonight

“It’s a play within a play,” said director Jason Carpenter. “‘Taming of the Shrew’ is being performed but you also get a behind-the-scenes storyline involving the actors and everything that goes into the (William Shakespeare) ‘Taming of the Shrew’ production.”

Although the “behind-the-scenes” storyline takes place in the 1940s, it is modern enough to give the performance both modern and classical elements.

Mr. Carpenter has been involved with the Polytech theater for a year and a half as assistant director to John Link who served as director for six years. “Kiss Me Kate” is Mr. Carpenter’s debut as director.

Polytech holds one large production every spring and a small production in the winter. The past three years, the actors have been accompanied by live music and the tradition continues this year.

“With an actual band, the music feels so much more alive and the audience gets a more professional feel,” Mr. Carpenter said.

“I think productions like this give the actors and the audience a view of what Broadway is like,” said senior Alex Wilson, portraying the actress Lilli Vanessi who plays the character of Catherine in “Shrew”. “It’s a great show with great actors and the music and lighting really bring it all together.”

There are a total of 58 students participating in the production in one way or another, with rehearsals beginning in January.

“I was surprised that even starting the first week, everyone came in willing to work hard and have rehearsed at such a high level throughout the past several weeks,” Mr. Carpenter said.

From left, Rose Badner, cast member, Alexis Dempsey, stage hand, Patrick Obrien as Gen. Howell, Devon Ott as Hattie and Mya Langhorn, cast member in “Kiss Me Kate.”

“I think it’s going to turn out great and some of our leads still have a year or two so we know the program is going to continue to stay strong.”

Cynthia Acevedo, a junior, is performing with Polytech theater for the first time this year and shines in the song “Too Darn Hot.”

“I love singing and that song is really jazzy and fun,” she said. “But it’s one of a wide variety of songs the show has so I think there’s something for everyone to enjoy no matter their taste in theater music.”

Conner Davis and Sarah Price share a moment.

Cynthia originally joined theater to make new friends but like others in the company, it has turned into more than that.

“I’ve been doing it since freshman year because I really like acting and singing but more than anything, I love the people here and through each performance it becomes more and more like a family and that keeps a lot of us coming back year after year,” Alex said.

Senior Ben Kaplan, who portrays the role of Fred Graham, the director, producer and lead actor of “Taming of the Shrew” and first joined theater his junior year to expand his friendship circle and skill set.

“I’d really only ever done sports outside of school so those are the people I hang out with. But I wanted to try something new and now I have a lot of new friends and I’ve found a hobby that I really like,” he said.

“My character is very confident, likes to have fun and gets into arguments off-stage with his ex and leading lady, Lilli”.

Arguing with Ben’s character is one of Alex’s favorite parts of the show.

“It’s fun acting out arguments and giving each other a hard time,” she said.

With the modern and classical portions of the musical, the actors all agreed that there is something in the musical that appeals to all emotions, a humor for every sense of humor and a song for everyone to enjoy.

Today will be a dinner and show with dinner at 5 p.m. and the show a 7.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students, seniors and children under 13.

Tickets for the show only today and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. are $10 for adults and $8 for students, seniors and children under 13.

Polytech is at 823 Walnut Shade Road in Woodside.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

From left, Ben Stafford as first man , Ben Kaplan as Fredric C. Graham, Alyx Wilson as Lilli Vanessi and Tristan Gaylord as second man.

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