I was thinking that June would be “Shakespeare Month” and that I’d watch a different Shakespeare-based opera each week. I now doubt that I’m going to do that (but I’ll probably watch Adès’ The Tempest rather soon).
You know how someone once said that Shakespeare is nothing more than a bunch of famous quotes all strung together? I sort of felt that way about the music. I’d heard so many of these Cole Porter tunes out of context that it was kind of weird hearing them IN context. Especially “From This Moment On.” Hearing General Whatsis sing that song as a march instead of Ella Fitzgerald singing it just seemed…wrong. I know that “Too Darned Hot” had to come from SOMEWHERE but I never would have guessed it was from Kiss Me, Kate.
I also didn’t know that this was a meta-musical. I knew it was an adaptation of Taming of the Shrew but I didn’t realize it showed the backstage drama, too. That was kind of fun, a nice extra layer to it all. I don’t think it was wholly necessary, I could have just had the Taming of the Shrew bit but mobsters are always a nice touch.
The production I watched was the 2004 revival. They tried to make it look like they were doing a live production but it was fairly clear that they weren’t. Something was missing from the energy of the performance even though the production values were rather high. I wasn’t as wowed as I expected to be but I wasn’t repulsed by it, either. I’d like to see it live sometime. I bet it would be funnier.
Cole Porter certainly was a clever one. My favorite number (which I hadn’t heard before) was “Where is the Life That Late I Led.” “I Hate Men” was certainly fun, too. “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” I had heard before and found it charming until it just stretched out one joke too long too late into the show.