June 27, 2014. Lees-McRae College is hosting its 30th Summer Theatre Series. This year’s series will be kicked off by a performance of Kiss Me, Kate, the multiple Tony Award-winning Broadway musical hit. Performances will be held at Hayes Auditorium at 7 p.m. on July 1, 2, 3 and 5 and at 2 p.m. on June 29 and July 5 and 6.
Kiss Me, Kate is a play within a play about a production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The plot involves conflict between Frank Graham, egotistical director, producer and star of the play, and his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi, who plays the leading lady. Kiss Me, Kate plays off of many thematic similarities it shares with The Taming of the Shrew. Like the Shakespearean classic, it’s a romantic comedy that explores love triangles and the division between men and women.
The Summer Theatre Series chose this play as a dedication to the late Stanley Etkin, long time Summer Theatre Advisory Committee Chair, whose favorite production was Kiss Me, Kate. His family will be in attendance for the July 1 performance and a dedication will be held in his honor.
“I watched the rehearsal last night and they really look good,” said Janet Barton Speer, Artistic Director for the Summer Theatre Series.
“I think the leads are very, very strong and the chorus is strong. I think that, as usual, Lees-McRae brings something to these older plays — we call those chestnuts, those that have stood the test of time. I think the people that we’ve selected are just outstanding … and the Director, Michael Hannah does a wonderful job with musicals. He loves musicals as much as I do and he’s very smart about it — he knows all of them. He’s a good one to direct this show.”
Michael Hannah is an Associate Professor at Lees-McRae and has been with the Summer Theatre Series for 25 of its 30 years. He has played every role from a piano player to Costumer and Musical Director.
“I’ve seen [Kiss Me, Kate] several times and have always enjoyed it and thought we should do it. I’ve advocated for several years to get it done for the Summer Theatre Series … It’s a standard — a classic in musical theater,” said Hannah.
“It’s got wonderful Cole Porter music. It’s very funny — it’s got a love story to it, but it’s very funny [and] it’s got great dance numbers. There’s a lot of energy.”
A play is only as good as its players and the show’s cast has garnered nothing but praise.
“I think our two leads have done a wonderful job. They work really, really well together. They’re very comfortable with each other and it really comes through,” said Hannah.
“We’re in here day and night and all weekend. We cram so much into their heads … they make it look easy. As long as we’ve been doing it, I’m still amazed. The cast is wonderful at being able to do these shows [in the time we have].”
Tickets are still available for all showings. Admission costs $42.71 for adults and $21.36 for students and children. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more.
The box office is located in the lobby of Hayes Auditorium on the Lees-McRae campus and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Show day hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. The box office may be reached at 828-898-8709.
Tickets may also be purchased online at LMC.edu/SummerTheatre or by mailing in ticket requests to Tickets, Lees-McRae College Summer Theatre, PO Box 128 Banner Elk, N.C. 28604.
For more information on Kiss Me, Kate or the Lees-McRae Summer Theatre Series, visit LMC.edu or call 828-280-4562.