MARSHALL - She's a demanding, shrew-like actress who doesn't really care for her egotistical ex-husband.
Or does she?
The Marshall Area Stage Company is presenting the musical "Kiss Me, Kate" at 7 p.m. July 7-9 and 15-16 and 2 p.m. July 17 at the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Maureen Keimig and Bob Schwoch portray Lilli and Frederick, a couple that can’t stand each other, in the upcoming Marshall Area Stage Company production of “Kiss Me, Kate.”
The premise of the musical is that it's a "play within a play" where the musical version of "Taming of the Shrew" is being performed at a theater in Baltimore. Frederick C. Graham is the director, producer and star of the show and his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi is portraying Katherine. The two, who are not fond of one another, argue and banter throughout the show. They, along with the rest of the acting troupe, attempt to get through a night's performance.
Director Justin Helmer said he selected the show because it featured Cole Porter's music.
"It's a very traditional Broadway story," Helmer said. "What really recommended it to me was the music."
The songs in "Kiss Me, Kate" get used by other singers throughout the years, Helmer said, such as Frank Sintra and Michael Bubl.
"They use his (Porter's) music all the time," Helmer said. "For me, it's all about the score and the songs. The actors are handling it very well."
Maureen Keimig and Bob Schwoch, who are also a couple in real life, play the two main characters.
"It's really helped with the chemistry onstage," Keimig said.
And since they already know each other, it helps with the slapstick comedy, Schwoch said.
"The slaps, kicks and the wrestling," Schwoch said.
Lilli/Katherine is Keimig's biggest role to date.
"I have to push myself, I'm not used to singing a solo onstage," Keimig said.
Keimig said she's been learning how to project her singing voice through various vocal exercises.
"(Music director) Sue Schreier has helped me train my voice," Keimig said.
It's also been some time since Schwoch has portrayed a leading man.
"It's a big challenge, it's been a long time since I had a role this big," Schwoch said. Plus, he added, he's not exactly leading man material.
Schwoch and Keimig said it's also been fun and challenging to play two different characters within the show, going back and forth between Frederick and Lilli versus Petruchio and Katherine.
Sonya Karels is portraying one of her favorite characters in the show, Lois Lane. The show was once considered for a Minneota High School production, her alma mater, so Karels said she was familiar with the show.
"She's very child-like and affectionate," Karels said of her character. "I like the cast and working with (Justin) again. It's very similar to a lot of characters I've done." Karels recently portrayed Dominique du Monaco in "Lucky Stiff" at Southwest Minnesota State University, as well as Babette in "Beauty and the Beast" and Frenchie in "Grease" at Minneota. She was also in Lake Benton Opera House's production of "Chicago" last year. Karels is also going to be in the acting program at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles this fall.
Schwoch said MASC also got a head start on set design with borrowing backdrops from the Bloomington Civic Theater after its production of "Kiss Me, Kate" in May. Helmer said there have been different kinds of challenges at different times, such as getting into the theater and then figuring out the technical aspects of the show in the theater at Marshall and then putting the Bloomington items into that space.
But all in all, the actors and Helmer say, the show is coming together.
"It's going to be a great show," Keimig said.