July 20--SOUTH BEND -- An Indiana composer's classic musical will be hitting the stage at The Salvation Army Kroc Center on Friday and Saturday.
Actors from The Main Stage Inc. of Mishawaka will perform "Kiss Me Kate," a musical composed by Indiana-native Cole Porter, of Peru, Ind. The summer's performance will feature a guest director for the first time. The Main Stage alumni John Banes is currently a rising junior at Ball State University majoring in musical theater.
"I have never directed a play before," Banes said. "I am just taking what I have learned so far from school, and applying it to how I want to direct the show."
The musical "Kiss Me Kate" originally appeared on Broadway in the late 1940s, focusing on the relationships formed by a recently divorced couple. There is also a dual performance in the show, having a play within a play. The stars of the production had to memorize their character's lines, as well as the Shakespearean lines of the characters their characters play.
Jon West, executive director of The Main Stage and also the lead in the show, said he's always wanted to perform this musical. He has directed seven shows at The Main Stage, but he only wanted to do "Kiss Me Kate" if he could be the lead.
"We always go around and say what our favorite musical is, and I always pick this one," West said. "It's such a great show with fantastic character development."
West's character, Fred Graham, is the director of a production of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." He has to direct the ex-wife he divorced a year prior, who also stars as Katharine Minola in the production, Lilli Vanessi. Also on the set is Fred's former lover Lois Lane, who plays one of Lilli's main co-stars, Bianca Minola.
West said his character Fred has a love/hate relationship with his ex-wife. He said Fred even sent flowers to the wrong woman, causing hostility between his character Petruchio and Lilli's character Kate.
"The scenes just start to break down on the stage," West said. "Honestly, I think even Fred doesn't know how he really feels about Lilli."
Lilli also happens to be engaged to a rich politician Harrison Howell. Mary Beth Vredingburgh, who has been at The Main Stage for about five years mainly behind the scenes, plays opposite lead of West, Lilli Vanessi.
"I'm playing total opposites within the show," Vredingburgh said. "It's fun to play such diverse characters. Kate is this woman singing about how she hates men. Then there's Lilli, who is so in love with her fiancÉ."
Alienna Worthen, who plays Lois Lane and Bianca, said her characters are also extremely diverse, making her first performance with The Main Stage more challenging.
"Lois [Lane] is a nightclub dancer trying to make it to Broadway by sleeping with men for money," Worthen said. "Then I switch onstage to Bianca in ('Taming of the Shrew'), who is such a sweet and innocent character."
With plenty of love triangles, and even some involvement of the mob, the cast will keep the audience wondering how they will get out of all the messes they have made until the very end.
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