Wesleyan’s winter musicals involve countless hours of pre-planning, practicing, costuming and set design. Director Steve Broyles said, “We set very high expectations for everyone, from ensemble to leads; from choreography to set & lighting design; from costumes to props. That’s the only way we can come to the end, look back, and be completely satisfied that we left it all on the stage.” With over 40 people involved, both on and off stage, the show was counted by actors as a success with help from the lead actors of senior Anna Ree and junior Leandro Haddad.
Ree and Haddad occupied the lead roles of Lilli Vanessi and Frederic Graham respectively, and excelled in bringing these characters to life. Wunderbar, an affectionate duet between Haddad and Ree, established one of the many tender moments in the show, but songs like I Hate Men, sung by Ree, and Where is the Life that Late I Led?, sung by Haddad, showed off the show’s comedic flare.
Juniors Lexi Mellot and Jaucqir Lafond claimed the supporting roles of Lois Lane and Bill Calhoun. Songs like Why Can’t You Behave? and Bianca showcased their chemistry onstage, as well their outstanding talents. But one of the best show stopping performances of the night went to junior Brooks Lalley and sophomore Patterson Beaman in their portrayal of New York gangsters.
Senior cast member Jessica Roberts said, “Most of the cast only got to see Brooks and Patterson run this song a few times because we were backstage most of the time, but during the shows we were all backstage laughing along with the audience just from their voices alone.”
Lalley and Beaman’s song, Brush Up Your Shakespeare, was noted by many as one of the most memorable performances of the night. But then again, the Act II opening song Too Darn Hot, an 11 minute dance number full of brilliant energy and choreography, left the audience in awe, gaining them a standing ovation during the show’s Saturday showing.
Many cast members agreed on the fact that Kiss Me, Kate was one of their favorite shows to perform in because of the immediate connection that the cast members had with each other.
“This was one of the best shows I’ve ever been a part of,” freshman Elizabeth Stainback said. “Our cast truly turned into a family. It was so much fun to go to rehearsal every day and hang out with a group of amazingly talented people.”
Sophomore Annie Cowart also commented on the success of the show due to the talented actors playing a part in it. She said, “The people involved were by far my favorite part of the show.”
However, like any show, Kiss Me, Kate had a fair amount of bloopers, which a few cast members shared. One of which, lead actor Leandro Hadad was having trouble handling his latest prop, which happened to be a whip. “That took him a while to get used to. Let’s just leave it at that,” Stainback said laughing.
Luckily, this took place in rehearsal, free from the views of audience members. Other incidents did not have that luxury.
A small mishap occurred during a performance of the show. In one scene, sophomore Patterson Beaman shot a dove with a revolver. In this scene, the bird was supposed to fall when it got hit. However, that did not always happen. In the first show, the bird remained suspended after the shot sounded, while the cast members stared down at the ground, looking for a bird that was not there. “That was the way we rehearsed it. It gave us all a good laugh,” sophomore Andrew Pridgen said. “The first time it actually fell down during a show, our screams and reactions were completely authentic; we were not expecting that,” junior Lexi Mellott said.
Backstage, Pridgen was caught “accidently” shooting that same prop gun. “I didn’t know it was fully loaded with a blank round,” Pridgen said. The sounds and the visible smoke later made that apparent.
“This was the first show I’ve been in that has Renaissance dresses,” said Mellott. Junior Lauren Pavelec, costume designer, had her work cut out for her with this show, but, according to the audience, the costumes succeeded in looking authentic and pleasing to the eye.
Junior Madison Lloyd said, “The costumes were a huge part of why Kiss Me, Kate was one of my favorite shows.” The long, elegant dresses were a hit with many female cast members.
For male cast member, Andrew Pridgen, the best part of the show was “the controlled chaos that is show week. I also enjoyed finding comedic moments that weren’t written into the script in my roles as Pops and the Padua Priest,” Pridgen said.
“While being one of the four dancing women and the ensemble, I was able to dedicate my time to other things and be a part of the show,” Lloyd said. When asked if she would have changed anything from her experience, the only thing she could think of was “more cast outings.”
Every cast member agreed that there was truly a special bond within this group of actors and actresses.
In the lyrics of the cast-favorite song, the show, Kiss Me, Kate was simply Too Darn Hot!