Original source: Carousel Dinner Theatre in Akron, Ohio

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True To Carousel Fashion, KISS ME, KATE Sizzles on Stage.


Akron, OH -- "All the World's a Stage" and a cast of vivacious characters spice it up in Cole Porter's beloved KISS ME KATE, currently running through August 31, 2003 at the Carousel Dinner Theat re. Shakespeare's rollicking battle of the sexes, paired with Porter's fantastic score, vibrant dance numbers, sumptuous costumes and the Carousel's most elaborate set ever built, KISS ME, KATE is a marvelous musical not to be missed!

 Credited for making Porter a household name, KISS ME, KATE is peppered with jazzy and electrifying songs. The quintessential show tune, "Another Op'nin, Another Show" opens with a bang, while "Too Darn Hot," "Wunderbar," "Always True To You In My Fashion" and "Tom, Dick or Harry" have audiences tapping along to every catchy beat.

 KISS ME, KATE captured theatre-lovers from the start, with it's Broadway debut in December of 1948 - garnering five Tony's, including Best Musical. The 1953 MGM film was full of classic old Hollywood glamour, starring Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller and Bobby Van. And, almost 50 years later, the Broadway revival (true to its original form) earned a total of 12 Tony nominations and took home five awards, including Best Musical revival in 1999.

Ford's Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland is the backdrop for KISS ME, KATE. It's a sizzling summer in the late 1940's and egotistical actor/producer Fred Graham is presenting a humorous musical version of TAMING OF THE SHREW. He has foolishly cast the diva movie star Lilli Vanessi, (who also happens to be his ex-wife) opposite himself. Their sarcastic love-hate relationship provides much comic relief on stage and off - with name calling one minute, then stealing kisses the next, Fred (Crutchlow R:) and Lilli (Jenkins L:) can't seem to decide which end is up!    

Enter Lois Lane, a hot new chorus girl, (who immediately catches Fred's eye) her gambling, Broadway hoofing boyfriend, Bill Calhoun, and two wise-cracking gangsters sent in to collect on a bogus bet, and it's hilarious madcap mayhem in KISS ME, KATE!

New York actors Tamara Jenkins and Ross David Crutchlow take the lead roles of Lilli Vanessi/Katharine and Fred Graham/Petruchio in KISS ME, KATE - and together they possess a dazzling chemistry.

Jenkins gives extra zing to her dual roles. Whether portraying a spoiled movie maven or a shrilling shrew, her clear operatic voice coupled with her elegant beauty and talent is a special treat. She soars with Crutchlow in "Wunderbar" and in her wildly amusing solo "I Hate Men." Jenkins appeared in the first national tours of CHICAGO as Velma, LES MISERABLES, where she originated the role of Cosette and CATS, where she played four different felines.

 Ross David Crutchlow wealthily fills the shoes of his self-absorbed, womanizing characters. His strong, rich voice confidently resonates across the stage in "Wunderbar" with Jenkins. Crutchlow portrays an authentic Italian accent in Petruchio's number, "Where is the Life that Late I Led?" and carries a crowd-pleasing, noble tune in "I've Come to Live It Wealthily in Padua." Crutchlow has taken on other title roles as, the Pirate King in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and Kenickie in GREASE. He returns to the Carousel after performing in a previous production of SHOW BOAT.  

Also highlighting the principle cast are Christeena M. Riggs (R:) as Lois Lane/Bianca and William B. Hubert, II (L:) as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio. They compliment each other beautifully in "Why Can't You Behave,"  and "Always True to You in My Fashion." Ms. Riggs shines stylishly in this number, as she entices the audience in her sultry moves and playful voice, reminding many of Marilyn Monroe. In the light-hearted number "Tom, Dick or Harry" and his delightful solo, "Bianca," Hubert charms his way across the stage with true Broadway hoofing pizzazz. 

With a stellar ensemble cast gathered by Associate Producer Karen Starr and Director-Choreographer Joey Patton, KISS ME, KATE is full of zestful performances! Showing that "Hot," is a recurring theme throughout the musical, New York actor Wayne Grant leads the ensemble in the heart pounding dance number, "Too Darn Hot."  They bring the house down with fiery, high-energy choreography!
The star-struck mobsters, played by New York actors (R:) Arthur Brown and 
(L:) Robby Johnson,
are also smoking'-hot on stage, adding their own humorous banter to this fun-filled comedy. This unlikely stage duo has audiences begging for more with the highly amusing song and dance hoodlum harmony, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare!"

Making every dynamic dance number a vivacious entertainment experience is New Yorker Lori Leshner, as Assistant to the Choreographer alongside Director-Choreographer Joey Patton. Leshner "is very much suited to the sexy, jazzy dance style of the "Too Darn Hot" musical number," said Associate Producer Karen Starr. She also has experience specific to KISS ME, KATE, with training in the classical style called Pavane, a 15th & 16th Century Italian court dance, giving her all the right moves for this musical! Leshner teaches dance at the renowned Tisch School of Arts at New York University. 

 For the first time in Carousel history, the theatre has collaborated with The University of Akron's Department of Theatre to recreate some of the garb from 1948 America and 15th Century Italy.

The costumes are gorgeous, with the added expertise of New York Costume Designer Dale DiBernardo. The rich colors and fabrics add dimension to the characters and the extensive set. The largest set to be built exclusively for the Carousel stage, the mammoth two-story piece takes us backstage at Ford's Theatre and physically pivots 180 degrees to expose the back alley of the theatre. From its inception in April of this year, over two tons of steel and over 2,100 man-hours went into building this enormous set from scratch. 

 Bringing the scenery to living color was not an easy task, and Carousel didn't just choose any "Tom, Dick or Harry" to get the job done right. Gifted New York Scenic Artist Kelly Tighe, who recently painted a fantastic rustic Russian Village in FIDDLER, was preferred for this project.  Handling both Scenic Design and Art for Carousel's KISS ME, KATE, Tighe painted every inch of surface by hand - and the results are spectacular!

 In a show of 'firsts,' Associate Producer Karen Starr said "It was only natural to unify the production by bringing on a new lighting designer for KISS ME, KATE." Warren native and New York City resident Scott Davis, direct from the Broadway revival of GYPSY, contributes his talents to Carousel's KISS ME, KATE.  Apparent throughout the production, creative lighting treatments illuminate the costumes and sets, turning the Carousel stage into radiant eye-candy! Davis attended Kent State University and has designed lighting for over 100 musicals, plays and operas.

 From the big, bold opening number to the fabulous final scene, KATE is a fresh and funny show-biz story that will leave audiences smiling and fully entertained!

See Who's Who in the cast of