'Kiss Me, Kate' sings out over a battle of sexes

    San Diego brushes up its Shakespeare with the beloved Broadway musical “”Kiss Me, Kate.”” Based on a book by Sam and Bella Spewack with music and lyrics composed by Cole Porter, this is a musical backed not only by strong direction, but also by a timeless plot and outstanding performances.

    The exceptional achievement is a classic battle of the sexes mixed with the many antics of a play-within-a-play story line.

    Big Broadway actors Rex Smith and Rachael York star as Fred Graham and Lili Vanessi, a divorced acting couple caught in the postmarital throes of bickering, yet underlying romance.

    Set during post-World War II America in the backstage of a tryout for a musical based on Shakespeare’s “”The Taming of the Shrew,”” egotistical actor-producer Graham and his brash ex-wife Vanessi comically squabble their way through this memorable story. And much like Shakespeare’s Petruchio and Kate, it’s a battle of will to the end.

    Both actors show stunning chemistry on stage with their immense singing voices, amusing acting styles and great ability to work together.

    York captures the crowd with her hilarious solo of “”I Hate Men,”” sending the audience (especially women) into roaring laughter.

    Smith then recaptures the spotlight with comic one-liners and entertaining interaction with other characters by aligining himself with the rest of the male cast.

    With enjoyable classic songs such as “”Brush Up Your Shakespeare,”” “”Another Op’nin, Another Show,”” “”Wunderbar,”” “”Too Darn Hot”” and several other components that contribute to the overall success of the production, this comedy musical is a triumph.

    “”Kiss Me, Kate”” plays at the San Diego Civic Theatre through March 10. For more information on tickets call (619)220-TIXS.

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