Sit down and listen up...
J. Williams | Mildlands, UK. | 06/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Kiss Me Kate', Winner of 5 Tony Awards, 6 Drama Desk Awards and 4 Outer Critics Awards including Best Musical Revival, is a wonderful production with breathtaking performances from a stellar cast including Brent Barrett and Rachel York. What I want to clear up is the criticism of the DVD. I have to disagree with everything negative said - the sound is fine and a pleasant balance of orchestra and vocal with a crisp clarity. Secondly, the DVD is widescreen and captures a lot of the onstage `business'. Indeed the cameras do follow the main action, but never misses anything. It has been filmed by people who both appreciate the performance, the art and the intention of Michael Blakemore. Since he directed it and then adapted `Kiss Me Kate' for television, surely he of all people knows what needs to be filmed?Always, the performance has an `on stage' feel and I urge you to ignore the exaggerated views of others here. Sound is good, video is good, DVD menu is good and I guarantee that you'll be as enthusiastic about the DVD as I was today after watching it. Maybe the others need to appreciate that this is a stage `adaptation' as stated on the DVD case."
Too Darn Hot!
Mark Clegg | Great Britain | 01/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A worry I always have with filmed stage shows (as well as modern movie musicals in general) is that very few directors these days seem to be able to direct the filming of a choreographed dance routine. Worried about a static camera, they jump around and, worse still, give us close-ups of the dancers' faces. Looking back to the MGM and Warner musicals of the Golden Age, one can see that letting the dancers and choreographer do thier stuff and filming it with the minimum amount of technical flourish is the way it should be done. I am pleased to say that this filmed stage production of 'Kiss Me, Kate' mostly gets it right and shows off the staging both of the dances and the frantic dramatic action to it's best advantage.
Brent Barrett and Rachel York are absolutley fantastic in the leading roles, as are all of the principals (in particular Michael Berresse as Bill Calhoun, who fleshes out his character beyond the typically under written 'romantic lead'). Barrett plays one of Broadway's most complicated and demanding male roles with confidence and great emotion when required. York sings like an angel, screams like a banshee and pulls faces that could stop a clock as well as get the audience rolling in the aisles. Speaking of audiences, one way in which this production suffers is the seeming lack of an audience. Although there are laughs at the jokes there is no applause after the numbers. This seems a ridiculous omission, particularly considering the theatrical nature of the piece.
The re-written role of Harrison Howell, changing him from a boring cattle-baron to an agressive military man, jars as does the bizarre inclusion of a song for the character - 'From This Moment On'. The scene in the show involving Howell being mocked and eventually put to sleep, surely must rank as one of Broadway's most perfectly crafted and witty set-pieces. The re-written version on this DVD pales in comparison.
Cole Porter's best score is well served both vocally and visually (although I believe 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare' is wasted) and the set and costumes are beautiful. I feel that the lighting is lacking in places, creating some gloomy scenes particulary in the 'Shrew' sequences which surely should be vibrant to the point of tackiness. The direction and performance during the 'Shrew' parts of the show are a real highlight - showing that Shakespeare can be fun - particularly when accompanied by a Cole Porter score!
Unless you're mad about gimmicky 3-D camera angles or a sanitized version of the show that avoids the B-word, avoid the Howard Keel, Katherine Grayson film and invest in this infinitely superior version of one of Broadway's gems."
This Was Our Fave!
Lori L. | Skokie, IL USA | 08/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the Amazon customer reviews that my husband and I read of the two versions of this musical that are available on DVD, we bought both of them. We started with the other (classical Hollywood) version, and watched until I commented that it really bothered me that so many of the bawdy lines had been censored out. What's the use of Cole Porter without the naughty bits? So we switched it off and watched this production instead. We loved it from start to finish. One of the highlights was the duet, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," in which the marvelous actors playing the comical Chicago-style mafia thugs take us on a tour from vaudeville to burlesque to Music Hall, evolving the song stylistically with each repetition of the chorus. Altogether a wonderful night out at the theater that I would highly recommend to anyone who treasures the rare wit of Cole Porter. (And the little wink between sisters Bianca and Kate makes the over-the-top final soliliquey of submission palatable.
Someone else might say they prefer the Hollywood version, with its superior technology, orchestration and dancing. But I was put off by the liberties taken with the original script--cutting out so much of the Shakespeare, all the racy little jokes and bad words (the word "bastard" hit the cutting-room floor in that era, and "louse" just doesn't have the same impact). I also didn't appreciate the song "It's Too Darn Hot" sung by her as a bizzare sort of strip tease tap dance. If that's to your liking, you may well prefer the old classic film. It left us both wondering why Hollywood can't seem to find the balance between the pendulum swings of Puritanical censorship and today's tasteless oversexing. Bridget Bardot once said that in Europe, sex is a fact of life, but in America it's an obsession--and it comes out in the unhealthy-feeling treatment of sex that Hollywood films have tended to offer us. So--enjoy this charming theater piece instead!"
Fantastic version of a classic
Jim Jr | Buffalo, NY United States | 05/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This PBS - Great Performances version of "Kiss Me Kate" is a magnificent version of a classic musical. It makes the MGM film seem a grade school skit. The leads, Brent Barrett and Rachael York are so good there are not proper words to describe their performances. They become the characters - not an easy job when they are giving performances to fill a large theater and at the same time have close ups from cameras. Barrett is the perfect "Fred" conceited and self absorbed, but not so much that you don't like him - he is rather endearing. York is the beautiful film star with all the insecurities - a dead on characterization.Their singing is wonderful, much better than the Broadway leads on the CD of the New York version. Both are Broadway vetrans who were chosen to do the London production. Check out Miss York on the "Victor/Victoria" DVD version of the live show with Julie Andrews repeating her film role on stage. York is a talent to be reckoned with (she recently played Lucille Ball in the TV film of her life). Barrett has made many recordings of Broadway shows including "Grand Hotel" (in which he also played the lead on Broadway) and "Brigadoon". Everything about this production is wonderful PLUS it is the full show, not cut as is the film. A viewer gets the full "Brush Up Your Shakespear" one of the funniest songs ever written. For this reason alone, this is the best version to own. Also on the DVD is the great "From This Moment On" that is not even on the cast recording.No fan of musicals should be without this unbeatable "Kiss Me Kate"!!!!!!!"