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Kiss Me, Kate: Vibrant play ends year for Sheffield Theatres

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Paul Foster's adaptation of Bella Spewack and Cole Porter's 40s musical is a colourful and vibrant production that ends the year for Sheffield Theatres in fantastic style. Part screwball comedy, part Shakespeare and all song and dance, the show at the Crucible is at its best when it wears its heart on its sleeve and, at times, joins the audience in the spectacle.

After a rousing opener the play moves down a gear or two before settling into its rhythm. The play-within-a-play scenes are brilliantly performed and get some of the best laughs. Leads Edward Baker-Duly and Rebecca Lock throw themselves into their roles with the reckless abandon of their characters. Lock is a compelling stage presence blessed with an operatic voice sent straight from the stars. Baker-Duly is decent as Fred, but he is fantastic as Petruchio and at times almost single-handedly carries the show through some of the fluffier scenes.

The pinnacle of this production however involves neither of its stars. The second act kicks off with a version of 'Too Darn Hart' that is as good as anything this theatre has seen. Sung, choreographed and performed to perfection, it's a dizzying and dynamic number that threatens to bring the house down. Even if nothing in the second half can match it for force, several songs leave the audience with grins that take several hours to shift. 'In My Fashion' is a particular highlight, before 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare' moves the play into its final act. Few songs in musical theatre remain as genuinely funny when performed as this.

Kiss Me, Kate is a fabulous production for most of its near three-hour running time. From the moves of Dex Lee to the comedy of Delroy Atkinson, there's rarely a lull and it changes gears every time you need it to. Kiss Me, Kate runs until 12 January and is the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

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