Thanks to the Heights Players, an all-time classic musical is making its way to Brooklyn. The company will conclude its “Season of Firsts” program with the musical “Kiss Me, Kate,” a comedy squaring in on the awkward scenario of an ex-married couple forced to work together in the musical production of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Veteran director Tom Tyler, who has been at the helm for several productions, was inspired by the project.
“It’s an older show and it still plays well today. It originally came out in 1948,” he said. “It’s interesting. A divorced couple who are both actors and they’re performing in a musical production of Shakespeare. The whole action offstage reflects action going on onstage. There are two different styles of stuff going on. There’s the backstage stuff and you have stuff going on show within show.”
Lead character, Fred Graham/Petruchio is played by Sean Carroll, who is making his Heights Players debut. Lilli Vanessi/Kate is played Allison St. Rock, a Heights Player veteran who has already starred in productions like “Big River,” and “Peter Pan.”
One of the aspects that drew Tyler to the project was the world renowned score. “We thought it was an excellent score,” he said, noting that it is “regarded as Cole Porter’s best score.”
Although there’s been some controversy in how “Kiss Me, Kate” portrays women, Tyler sees it a totally different way. “It’s really sort of taking a stand on women’s position in society,” he explained. “Some people say it puts women down and they’re submissive to men. What it really is doing is taking a stand for everyone, male or female. Everyone has to work together in relationships to make them work.”
One of the keys to the production’s smooth rehearsals has been due to the talent’s comradery and chemistry. “The cast has been doing extremely well. One of the nicest aspects is that they all get along and respect each other. I’ve worked with half of the cast before.”
Like any production, “Kiss Me, Kate” has experienced some obstacles. “Because of our space, we’ve had to simplify what it would be. Sets for space were small. But we managed to use a lot of people’s creativity to make something in small space to looks like what it’s supposed to be.”
According to Tyler, among the highlights of the show is its choreography. “I think probably the ‘Too Dawn Heart’ number [is the best],” he said. “Our choreographer Michael Kidney has done several shows. He has outdone himself on that. [It’s] one of the best things I’ve seen on stage.”
In the end, Tyler said, regardless of people’s differences, in the end things will work out.
The curtains will rise on “Kiss Me, Kate” on May 22, 23, 29 and 30 at 8:00 p.m. and May 24 and 31 at 2:00 p.m. at 26 Willow Place (between State and Joralemon Streets). Tickets are $25 and $23 for seniors and children under 18. Reservations can be made by calling (718) 237-2752 or by visiting www.heightsplayers.org.