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A Sweet 'Kiss'

As spring approaches and the cold melts away, everyone at South County Secondary School on a recent Saturday could agree on one thing: it’s just "Too Darn Hot!" South County Secondary School put on a great performance of Cole Porter’s classic musical, "Kiss Me, Kate," bringing it to life on stage.

First opening on Broadway in 1948, "Kiss Me, Kate" follows a group of actors putting on a musical version of "The Taming of the Shrew," starring, directed and produced by the egotistical Fred Graham (Ray Yankey). Playing opposite Fred in the show is his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi (Claire Bridger), who happens to be almost as shrewish as the character she plays. This production stayed true to the original, showing all of the chaos behind the show-within-a-show.

The cast brought a high level of energy and commitment to the show, highlighted by some outstanding leading and featured performances.

Ray Yankey, as the self-important Fred Graham, was strong throughout the show. Although sometimes not carrying over into his songs, Yankey’s physical and vocal energy fit nicely, providing hilarity such a man who proclaims that "women should be struck regularly like gongs." As his counterpart, Lilli Vanessi, Claire Bridger was equally solid, with sharp comedic timing and a strong voice.

As the promiscuous actress, Lois Lane, Ally Barrale gave a stellar performance. Barrale perfectly portrayed the sassy singer in a wonderfully lovable way, making her an audience favorite. Her vocal proficiency shined through in "Always True to You in My Fashion," which became a showstopper. Barrale’s vocals were sweet and lovely through the majority of the song, then beautifully rang through the auditorium as she belted towards the end.

Drew Jenkinson and Alex Dyson brought life to the stage as the gangsters coming to collect a gambler’s debt. Their comedic banter was a joy to watch develop, whether they are sweet-talking a military general or getting caught on stage and hamming it up to no end.

Some actors excelled in their lesser stage time, bringing a new look to the show. Portraying the slick stagehand Paul, Nathan Awelchew wowed the audience in the opening number of the second act, "Too Darn Hot," with his smooth vocal tonality. Devon Goeller, as Flynt, displayed wonderful dancing expertise in the musical number "Tom, Dick or Harry." Goeller maintained high energy throughout the song, including some neat acrobatics.

The set design, by students Sarah Stephens and Sammi Santini, was both practical and aesthetically pleasing. The more impressive parts included two mobile dressing rooms and a very large mobile piece, which served as a set in the show-within-a-show as well and the primary backstage area.

As the Cappies season closes, South County Secondary School’s "Kiss Me, Kate" provided for a fun evening, filled with pompous players, goofy gangsters, and even a dancing horse!

"Kiss Me, Kate" will also be performed this weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Don't miss it.