Westchester Broadway Theatre's 'Kiss Me, Kate' is one rollicking ride

Published: Friday, September 27, 2013 7:00 am By: John P. McCarthy Source: The Journal News

It has been said a stage actor needs three things: a voice, a voice, and a voice. Without question, the two stars of Westchester Broadway Theatre’s delightful production of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” possess all three.

Whether belting out Porter’s witty, melodic songs or declaiming variations on Shakespearean verse (the play-within-the-musical is “The Taming of the Shrew”), Christianne Tisdale and William Michals deliver the goods vocally.

Their renderings of “So In Love” and “Were Thine That Special Face,” plus lighter ditties such as “Wunderbar,” are, well, wonderful. The pair is equally impressive when handling the hilarious bickering and physical jousting that occurs between and often during the musical numbers.

Michals brings a rich baritone and sharp sense of timing to the charmingly pompous Fred Graham — producer, director and star of Shakespeare’s battle-of-the-sexes comedy. It’s 1948 and out-of-town previews are in Baltimore.

Tisdale is terrific as Lilli Vanessi, Fred’s ex-wife and longtime acting partner who has rejoined his impoverished troupe after failing to make a go of it in Hollywood. Not only does Tisdale have vocal and emotional range, she can hurl benches and belch on cue.

They’re so believable, you might think Michals and Tisdale have been performing side-by-side for years, much like Fred and Lilli and their real-life models Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Backstage in Baltimore or during the bard-inspired scenes set in Padua, the more zingers they let fly, the more blows they land, the more fun it is to watch these seasoned thespians tussle.