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‘Kiss Me Kate’ is a little spicy

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Dave Hanson plays the part of actor Fred/Petruchio, and Rosanna Ungerman is actress Lilli/Katherine in SCERA Shell's "Kiss me Kate."

Dave Hanson plays the part of actor Fred/Petruchio, and Rosanna Ungerman is actress Lilli/Katherine in SCERA Shell’s “Kiss me Kate.”

Mark A. Philbrick, BYU

KISS ME KATE; SCERA Shell Amphitheatre, 699 S. State, Orem; through July 27; (225-2569); running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes (one 15-minute intermission).

OREM — Cole Porter's comeback, Tony-award winning musical "Kiss Me Kate," may not be as risque as he and authors Samuel and Bella Spewack intended, but its presentation at the SCERA outdoor theater may still be a bit bawdy for Utah Valley audiences.

Loosely based on William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," the musical comedy tells the story of two once-married musical theater performers, Fred Graham, played by David Hansen, and Lilli Vanessi, performed by Rosanna Ungerman, who are playing opposite each other in a musical version of the Bard's classic.

Chris Clark directed the play, who ironically was one of Ungerman's students when she directed high school plays.

Still on poor terms, the two performers, playing Shakespeare's Petruccio and Katherina, begin an emotional war onstage when Ungerman's character discovers that Hanson's character gave her wedding bouquet to another actress, Lois Lane, played by Lisa Thurman. She also plays Bianca in the Shakespearean play.

Meanwhile, the plot is spiced up further when Bill Calhoun (Brad McOmber), another actor who is in love with Lane, signs Graham's name to a gambling debt. A pair of gangsters comes to collect and instead are instrumental in keeping the play-within-a-play going.

The two leading characters eventually reconcile, but along the way give excellent performances. Although loaded with comedy, the three characters with the best comedic lines are Ralph, a Korean stagehand, played by Jordan Vance; and the two gangsters, played by Joel Petrie and Jake Bryant.

A high point was the ensemble dance production of the seductive "Two Darn Hot" with Cory Stephens as stagehand Paul taking the lead. Light on his feet, his dancing brought the applause of an appreciative audience. Nichole Ortega did the choreography with Jeremy Showgren providing the music direction.

While the ensemble gives an acceptable performance with its choreography, its musicianship is off, lacking blend and harmony through many of its pieces. Balance is also lacking with the lead singers and the ensemble. Finally, Hansen's solo, "So in Love," is occasionally lost in the louder musical accompaniment.

Some of the scenes are cut, as humorously announced by Ralph in his broken English. It isn't the first time the musical was trimmed. When MGM produced the film version of the 1948 play in 1953 many of the risque lyrics had to be cleaned up to get past the censors.

The play also contains pretend drinking and smoking but not pretend mild profanity and sexual innuendos.

E-mail: rodger@desnews.com