Kisses for Act III

Kisses for Act III

After more than a month of rehearsal, it was time for one last run-through before opening night. For the director, there was nothing left to worry about.

“At this point they’ve either got it or they don’t,” said Susan Keady, director of Act III Theater Company’s production of the 1948 Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me Kate.”

Keady turned to the stage, where lead actors Catlyn Doyle and Carl Rosenthal were rehearsing a scene from the second act. “They’ve got it,” she said.

WITH A CAST of 25, “Kate” opened Friday, July 25 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater in Arlington.

Add a 15-piece orchestra and 15 stage technicians, and “Kate” is one of Act III’s largest productions in the troupe’s 20-year history.

It’s not just size that makes “Kate” a big production. “The musicals are always much more involved to produce,” said theater president Randy Spolter.

“The challenging thing about putting on a play like this is bringing together so many elements,” like choreography, music and stage combat, said Keady, whose previous directing assignments with ACT III include “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady” and the musical comedy “Murders of 1940.”

Keady won a Peabody Award for her radio program “Kinetic City Supercrew.”

CAST MEMBERS RANGE in age from 15 to 60. Sponsored by The Children’s Theater, Act III functions largely as a teaching theater for high school and college students.

“I’m always awed by the level of talent we attract,” said Keady.

“Everyone is really progressing together,” said Doyle, a senior at Robinson Secondary School in Burke. “There are no cliques. It’s more of a family. We work to make sure it’s the best play it can be.”

Doyle, who plays Lilli Vanessi and Katherine, had been dreaming of the role since she began acting in fifth grade.

“Just about everyone here seems to have started [acting] when they were about two,” jokes Zach Livingston, 21, who plays Bill Calhoun and Lucentio.

Now a senior at James Madison University, Livingston said he enjoys working with actors of various levels of experience. “It’s interesting to see how the choreography and direction works around having young people and old people together,” he said.

“Even though this is a community theater geared toward people my age, it’s very professional,” said Arlington resident Rosenthal, 18, who will attend Columbia University next year.

“KATE” FEATURES ELABORATE costume design and plenty of quick changes for the play-within-a-play based loosely on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

“It’s fun because I’ve done this show twice before and each time we’ve approached it differently,” said Debra Leonard, Act III’s costume and makeup designer. “This is the best of both worlds. It’s a fun way to do Shakespeare, and it’s got that great Cole Porter music.”

For instance, Leonard describes Kate’s dress in the second act as “screaming red,” with a reptile print. It’s not exactly authentic Elizabethan clothing. “But the dialogue supports a jazzier version of it,” said Leonard.

The music is of course a focal point to the Cole Porter work.

“The music is pretty difficult,” said Alexandria resident Jennifer Charlton, 19. “It’s very jazzy.”

For Rosenthal, the music is the real star of the show.

“I love this role, because I see myself as more of a singer than an actor,” he said. “And the music in this play is very well-placed.”