, Port Arthur, Texas

November 18, 2011

Brush up your Shakespeare at LSC-PA

Brandon Janes
The Port Arthur News

— The term “triple threat,” in theater, refers to a performer who can act, dance and sing.

“We’re not all triple threats, but we can act like triple threats,” actress Dylan Good told the News backstage at a rehearsal of Lamar State College-Port Arthur’s latest musical “Kiss Me, Kate” on Wednesday.

Good’s starring role requires her not only to act, dance and sing, but to take on two characters in two very different settings: Lilli Vanessi of 1948 Baltimore and Katharine Minola of 17th century Italy.

“It’s kind of a weird situation,” said Good. “Although we are in the 1940s, we move back and forth into Shakespeare’s time.”

The musical’s composer,  Cole Porter,  based his script on “The Taming of The Shrew” and the musical, like the Shakespeare, is a terribly confused ‘play within a play’ in which the actors, playing actors, let their true selves spill into the characters that they are putting on.

 “To me ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ is the perfect show because it shows the inner lives of performers,” said the production’s director Laura Stafford.

For the most part, this self-similarity holds true for the student actors and the roles they play, with one unintended exception: Dylan Kilday.

Unlike his character, the vainglorious actor-director Fred Graham, Kilday, a talented and committed actor, seems to be performing not for applause but for his own deep love for theater. He also plays a passionate “Beethoven” in LSC-PA’s straight theater production of “Dog Sees God,” which opens in two weeks.

While rehearsing for the two shows at once, Kilday worked diligently to master professional singing techniques, which strengthen his performance in “Kate” immensely.

“It was a lot of hard work, learning the proper way to breath and all,” he said.

Overall, the production is a song-show of the 1950s variety and the numbers are done with extravagant set design and broad-reaching dance numbers, exemplified in perhaps the most notable Porter song of all time, “It’s Too Darn Hot.”  The backdrop of rural Tuscany, painted by Kristin Shirley, is a work of art in itself.

There are just three remaining performances of “Kiss Me, Kate,” - 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lamar State College-Port Arthur Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $5 for children under 5. Students with a LSC-PA student ID get in free.

For reservations, call (409) 984-6111.