"ANOTHER OPENING OF ANOTHER SHOW"
Comments and observations compiled by Emma Shane
Welcome to light-hearted collection of comments dedicated Louise Gold’s performance as Kate in the Regents Park Open Air Theatre production of KISS ME KATE, with apologies to Cole Porter, Bella and Samuel Spewack.
"That’s no excuse for adlibbing"
This was a production which got off to an unfortunate start. On the opening night it rained heavily, the critics brave the rain - Michael Billington’s umbrella coming in for a lot of comments from his colleagues.
Director Ian Talbot was slightly the worse for a drink when he addressed the audience after a second downpour and wound up swearing at them, about those audience members who had left.
The Cast braved the rain too: Issy Van Randwyck, Debby Bishop and the rest of the company hoofed their way through a slippery Another Opening Another Show. Andrew C Wadsworth and Louise Gold tried warbling Wunderbar above the rain. Louise even threw in an add lib, to stop the audience laughing, she changed "Oh this heat" to "Oh this rain".
But all to know avail, for only the second time in the entire history of this theatre, and their first time since 1954, the opening night was actually rained off.
Writing in the News of the World, Bill Hagerty sums it up best:
"When leading lady Louise Gold burst into tears after Kiss Me Kate was rained off mid-pucker on opening night at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre, it was like pouring water on a drowning man." Bill Hagerty, THE NEWS OF THE WORLD, 27 July 1997
Other critics wrote:
"Her Lilli threw in some splendid adlibs, cussing the rain rather than the heat as she struggled into costume in her aquatic dressing room." Kate Bassett, DAILY TELEGRAPH, 26 July 1997
"On went the show with Louise Gold’s Lilli Vanessi and Andrew C Wadsworth’s Fred Graham offering a lively comic version of Wunderbar. At least I think thats what they were doing. As the rain intensified it was difficult to see through the forest of brollies." Michael Billington, THE GUARDIAN, 26 July 1997
"Not until Gold stomped off with a growl of "Oh, this heat!" did it become impossible to pretend it wasn’t raining. The audience roared. - And on went the show to wild applause, though this time Gold was careful to say "Oh, this rain!" when she stomped off. She and Wadsworth danced about in their dressing gowns singing Wunderbar, oblivious to the drizzle. - "On swaggered Gold in her role as Katherine, looking and sounding tremendous. :...." Benedict Nightingale, THE TIMES, 26 July 1997
"Another job which you hope at last will make your future forget your past"
It is important to remember that 1997 was a great year for West End Musicals, what with both Maria Friedman’s Lady In The Dark and Ruthie Henshall, Ute Lemper and Henry Goodman’s big revival of Chicago - no other show stood much of a chance to gain any awards.
However Kiss Me Kate received three nominations, namely Best Production (the award actually went to Chicago), It was also nominated for Best Actor in A Musical and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. But when it came to Best Actress in a musical there was just too much competition and the nominations went to Maria Friedman for Lady in the Dark, Sian Reeves for Marlene, Ruthie Henshall and Ute Lemper for Chicago and was won by the latter.
"Three Weeks and It Couldn’t Be Worse"
Like any other theatrical production this one must have had its share of miss-haps and problems, here is one description:
On one performance the leads appeared to be having a few problems with an errant Shrew costume. We were at the point in the play where Fred Graham had just discovered his flowers had been mis-delivered. He goes round to Lilli’s dressing room, in the hope of preventing her from reading the note. As our leading lady entered it soon became obvious that her petticoat had not been securely fastened, for it began to slip down awkwardly. She, realising it was becoming a nuisance kicked it off and exited, leaving it lying on the stage to be picked up by her leading man, as he exited.
By the time she entered as the Shrew she had a least got the errant slip securely fastened, Then while Kate and Petruchio were rolling around on the floor her hairband managed to fall off, she exited, again leaving the leading man to retrieve part of her costume, he then tried to hand this back to her during the backstage argument Scene.
"One Week Will It Ever Be Right"
On another occasion Louise Gold managed to sing one of the lyrics of I Hate Men back-to-front, coming out with:
"Since love is blind then all women kind, from the mind, should route ‘em"
“No Stars Like LB Mayer’s Are We”
While they may not be film stars, apart from being able to do the things you expect actors in musicals to be able to do (Sing, Tap-dance, and, Act), several members of the troupe do posses a variety of hidden talents, for example: supporting actress Dutch Barroness Issy Van Ranwyck can of course clog dance. Meanwhile leading man Andrew C Wadsworth’s talents range from singing opera to playing the Ukulele; And leading lady Louise Gold is an accomplished (and quite notable) puppeteer.
"What A Trouper What A Personality"
I overhead one member of the audience being moved to remark, on reading the leading lady’s resume.
"Some performers are disgustingly talented"
Which does, one must admit, pretty well sum up Louise Gold.
"Dispening fol-de-rol frivolity"
When asked in a newspaper interview (between 20 and 24 July, unfortunately I do not know what newspaper this is from, although it might have been The Independent) if she had a favourite song from Kiss Me Kate, Louise Gold replied
"I suppose So In Love because its so beautiful, but I love doing Wunderbar, which is a spoof operetta number. I can really let myself go with that one"
"What The Hell Do You Mean By Poking Me In The Ribs?"
The actors who played the warring couple in this production first encountered each other, 11 years earlier, when she saw a production of Girlfriends, by Howard Goodall, at Oldham Coliseum, that he was appearing in. Andrew C Wadsworth recounted their painful introduction to Arts Correspondent Robin Stringer (unfortunately I do not know what newspaper this is from, although it may have been The Evening Standard, on 24th July 1997)
"She was sitting in the bar with her legs crossed bouncing her feet. I was minding my own business. She was being a bit frisky and kicked me in the crotch."
That incident may not have been incorporated into the show, however, in the same article, Robin Stringer quotes Louise Gold on the subject of their fight scenes
""I do get to slap him around the face a lot." she says with relish"
“Sister, Content You With My Discontent”
Five years later, due to the complications of having a baby, Dutch clog-dancing Baroness Issy Van Randwyck, was unable to appear as the special cabaret artiste in the Hampstead & Highgate Arts Festival Cabaret Special. Perhaps there was a certain irony in the choice of her last minute replacement, in the form of the wonderful English actress-cum-puppeteer Louise Gold, who had after all had played Kate to the Baroness’s Bianca. See: “Louise Gold Sings Some Nice Songs”.
“You Know Baltimore”
Five years later, in 2002, “Only the second time this has happened in living memory” (according to The Stage), and the third time in the entire history of The Regents Park Open Air Theatre, another show at the theatre, Rachel Kavanaugh’s production of As You Like It, suffered the same opening night fate as Kiss Me Kate, when it too had it’s opening night rained off.
“Brush Up Your Shakespeare” - (In Richmond)
It is perhaps notable that both leading actors, at some point or other in their career, have found themselves singing Brush Up Your Shakespeare on the stage of Richmond Theatre in Surrey. Two years prior to Kiss Me Kate Louise Gold cracked a whip while singing the song, see Noel/Cole: Let’s Do It. While seven years after appearing in Kiss Me Kate it was Andrew C Wadsworth’s turn in Zipp.