NFCT’s ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ is pretty darn hot


North Fork Community Theatre’s production of “Kiss Me, Kate” is exciting, elating, eye-popping and ear-pleasing. Shakespeare, sex, music and scintillating performances create the glamour and gaiety of Cole Porter’s most successful musical.

In it, scenes from “Taming of the Shrew” are juxtaposed with the backstage romantic trials of the leading man and woman. As the plot of Shakespeare’s comedy unfolds, the offstage scenes reveal the parallel course of the turbulent romance between the lead actors.

Cole Porter’s inspired score represents both worlds. He uses Shakespearean lines in lyrics such as “Were Thine That Special Face” and uses his sophisticated touch in “Always True to You in My Fashion.” His score overwhelms us with tender love songs, showbiz anthems, a Viennese waltz and a vaudeville number for two gangsters. Its success must have been deeply gratifying for Porter, who had never fully recovered from a riding accident a few years earlier that was to cause him continued pain for the rest of his life.

In Mattituck, an enormous cast of four principals, seven featured actors and more than 20 ensemble players are all focused like laser beams on entertaining us. This bountiful gift is offered to us through the skilled, sensitive, imaginative direction of Bob Beodeker and pulled together by the experienced, capable producer Marilee Scheer.

The Petruchio/leading man role is stunningly played by Stephen D’Amico, a handsome, manly lead whose beautiful singing voice makes him an ideal woman-tamer. The Kate/leading lady role is played with spirit and a sharp sense of humor by the lovely Laura Ahrens, who is not afraid of slapstick and who sings enchantingly.

The two secondary leads are Christopher D’Amico, a versatile and extremely attractive performer who knows what it means to “give” a performance (we thank him), and the delightful and talented Tess Leavay, an accomplished comedienne whose singing and dancing sparkle and shine.

Christina Stankewicz sets the style for the entire show when she sings and struts “Another Op’nin’, Another Show.” We kept waiting to see her again — perhaps in “Too Darn Hot”? Nicholas Troisi and Brandon Holl

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