Just reading the program builds anticipation for the Barrington Stage Company production of Kiss Me Kate. The songs listed—“So In Love,” “I Hate Men,” “Wunderbar,” “Too Darn Hot”—are among the best from Broadway’s golden age. The first number, “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” adds more anticipation. Then the show builds and builds and builds until it is, unfortunately, way over the top. Barrington Stage Company, always so reliable for exceptional musical theatre, this year embellished a Cole Porter gem. They shouldn’t have. Kiss Me Kate gleams on its own.
An act of courage is required from anyone who tries to write about Shakespeare’s wife, Ann Hathaway. There is virtually no first-hand material and acquaintances are not always reliable. Friends like Ben Jonson both praised and decried Shakespeare at different times, and to top it all off he ended up being the main mover and shaker behind the First Folio. So hats off to Vern Thiessen for having the courage in Shakespeare’s Will, now playing in Lenox at Shakespeare and Company, to make something large out of very little indeed.