Following up on hugely popular runs of “West Side Story” and “Singin’ in the Rain” in each of the last two seasons, Summer Theatre of New Canaan for its big musical this year is turning once again to a classic Broadway show.
The company that sets up its outdoor theater at Waveny each summer is putting on Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” in 2018 for an expanded five-week run starting June 28, according to STONC Executive Producer Ed Libonati.
“It’s a great show with great songs,” he told NewCanaanite.com. “It’s terrific.”
A “play within a play” that revolves around a musical production of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Kiss Me, Kate” follows the intertwining and conflicting love interests of those behind and starring in The Bard’s famous work.
“You have Shakespeare and all the antics that go on backstage with the actors and life as it goes on in the theater,” Libonati said. “It’s kind of a fun peek behind the curtain of what is going on while the show also is going on. It’s very funny and entertaining and has some of the more classic Cole Porter songs in it.”
Those include “Too Darn Hot” and “Always True To You In My Fashion.”
Auditions for the show open this coming weekend, Libonati said.
This year, Libonati said, STONC is seeking to start one week earlier than in summers past—before the Fourth of July—which will add about 20 percent more performances. Last year, the company ran at about 99 percent capacity and Libonati said he’s eager to return to that level again.
“It’s very exciting and we’re hoping against hope to hit 99 percent again,” he said. “Sometimes we’re oversubscribed, so we have a standing-room area or set up additional seats to accommodate all comers, but more of than not our shows are sold out. So we’re very excited about the acceptance of our shows.”
STONC’s big musical has evolved since Ed and Melody Libonati launched the theater company in 2004 into a must-see for locals, though it draws widely from throughout Fairfield County and beyond. Summer Theatre’s considerable growth is reflected not only in its wide-ranging educational and other programs, but also its active pursuit of a permanent home so that it can present year-round theater.
In addition to “Kiss Me, Kate,” STONC’s Theater for Young Audiences children’s shows will feature a world premiere of “Peter Pan” from a Chicago-based Bros Do Prose. The show features two actors playing 20-odd roles “and it’s hilarious,” Libonati said. In addition, STONC is putting on a new show called “Balloonacy,” he said, which is “about a man who is befriended by a red balloon.” With no dialogue, it’s targeted the three- to seven-year-old age range, Libonati said.
“We are very excited about having this depth in offerings,” he said.
Landing on just what to offer for the big musical is a carefully made decision that weighs factors including what’s available, what is both family- and adult-oriented and “usually it is one of the major Broadway shows that has run in the last 20, 30, 40 years,” Libonati said.
In the case of “Kiss Me, Kate,” the show premiered on Broadway in the late-‘40s and then underwent a revival in 1999.
Tickets for Summer Theatre of New Canaan go on sale in May. Stay tuned to STONC’s website for details.