With a musical score that, according to Dexter Brigham, “breaks
your heart with perfect melodies,” “Kiss Me Kate” is a brilliant
rendition of Shakespeare’s timeless play “Taming of the Shrew.”
Built around the love-hate relationship of the two main characters,
this play not only makes Shakespeare accessible, but it will also
have the audience crying from laughter. In the words of Brigham,
the leading man, “Shakespeare is so much fun when you do it
“Emily Herring has her character down perfectly. She has that
strong brassy attitude about her and she is just a great woman,”
says Brigham. His character, however, is not as complementary.
Brigham plays opposite Herring as Fred Graham/Petruchio, an
egotistical, self-centered actor. He and Lilli Vanessi (Herring)
have been divorced for a year and are now performing the lead rolls
in “Taming of the Shrew.” It is obvious that Fred still deeply
loves Lilli, but his pride will not allow him to admit any such
fact. The character that Fred plays in “Taming of the Shrew” is
Petruchio, a man who loves Katharine (Herring) for being the
headstrong shrew that she is, but who is bent on ‘taming’ her.
Petruchio, like Fred, will not be the first to acknowledge that he
is in love.
Lilli, like Katharine, the character she plays, is also a person
full of pride. She is a headstrong woman who is not going to become
the property of any man, nor will she allow her feelings to govern
her actions. In spite of herself though, she is in love with Fred,
and by the end, her love, and the obviousness of Fred’s love win
From this crazy interweaving of two iron willed personas,
laughter is imminent. As the couple bickers on and off the set of
“Taming of the Shrew,” the audience is sucked into a world of
tangled emotions and gender roles. In the end though, love
prevails, as well as the individuality of all persons involved.
Both the marriages on the set and off end up worthy to be deemed
happily ever after.
Another fairy tale in the making is the life of Brigham. “There
are only about five roles written that perfectly fit an actor and
Fred is one of those written for me,” Dexter admits. “I was always
the class clown when I was younger and even though I went to school
for music, I have always loved American Musical Comedy.” The
boisterous, outgoing flamboyancy of Fred comes natural to Brigham
as he always liked and sought after being in the spotlight.
In this production, the spotlight will be on more than just
Brigham though, as the sets and costumes are stunning. The costumes
are actually the very same as those used in the 1997 revival
production that were awarded a Tony. This play’s history has had a
distinguished history marked with the awarding of five Tony awards
to both its original opening and the ’97 revival.
After hours of work, sweat and fun, the cast is ready to add an
audience into the mix and the final product is sure to be stunning.
In the words of Brigham, “The play is full of fantastic melodies,
fantastic songs and fantastic dancing, and it makes you laugh.”