Student showing of ‘Kiss Me Kate’ comes to Schaefer


Photo by Maggie Cozens | The Appalachian

Lovey Cooper

More than 100 students from 38 majors, including the graduate school and honors college, will perform the Broadway musical “Kiss Me Kate” Friday through Sunday.

The production features costumes in the style of multiple time periods and a student-created set containing more than 8,600 hand-painted bricks.

In honor of the High Country Theater League’s celebration of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, the show revolves around a fictional production of a musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” and follows characters on and off stage.

The show is part of this year’s Performing Arts Series in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.

This is the first time since 1997 that the university has produced such a large undertaking through collaboration between the Department of Theatre and Dance, the Hayes School of Music and the office of Arts and Cultural Programming. Gordon Hensley, the current associate dean of the Fine and Applied Arts, was an undergraduate actor in the last work like this, said Keith Martin, director of the show and professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Chung Park, director of orchestral activities for the Hayes School of Music, served as the musical conductor for the show’s live band.

“It’s really amazing to see students get out of their comfort zones, and have to do things that are not what they usually do,” Park said.

Graduate vocal performance student Farren Hilliard plays actress Lilli Vanessi for most of the play and Katherine during the “Taming of the Shrew” portion of the show. This is Hilliard’s first musical, as most of her performances have been in operas.

“The entire process of preparing for a show of this caliber has been different than what I’m used to,” Hilliard said. “In the opera world, it’s every man for himself. ‘Kiss Me Kate’ has been a complete collaboration of performers with different stage experience.”

Martin said the most difficult aspect in planning a show of this size is finding a time and a place that works for at least most of the cast and crew. Despite the huge undertaking of all the props, set pieces, costumes and choreography, the entire cast has had little time to practice in its entirety, Park said.

“It’s a good sign,” he said. “It’s a sign of health, and maybe a little bit of insanity.”

Martin said the recently renovated Schaefer Center’s stage is unlike any other on campus, and carries with it its own set of challenges in terms of space for cast and crew, set design and scheduling conflicts.

“Kiss Me Kate” will be performed this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Schaefer Center. Tickets are $8 for students and $15 for adults.

Story by Lovey Cooper, Senior A&E Reporter
Photo by Maggie Cozens , Assistant Photo Editor