“Kiss Me Kate” - Divorce and Shakespeare’s Shrew

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre launches its final show of the season, the Tony Award winning musical, “Kiss Me Kate” under the direction of Maltz-veteran director Peter Flynn. The show will run from March 8 to 27. And as with all of the theater’s productions, the seats are selling fast so don’t delay. 

“This fun, timeless musical showcases unforgettable melodies and features many well-known songs, including the emotional ballad ‘So In Love’ and the sizzling dance number ‘Too Darn Hot,’” said Andrew Kato, the theater’s producing artistic director and chief executive. “I’m honored to welcome back director Peter Flynn, who previously directed the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s productions of “Sleuth, Other Desert Cities” and the Carbonell Award-winning “Man of La Mancha.” I also welcome a new artist to our team – Broadway’s Marcos Santana – whose original choreographic signature has been a thrill to witness.””

The Wikipedia entry for “Kiss Me Kate” states, “The musical was inspired by the on-stage/off-stage battling of husband and wife actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne during their 1935 production of [‘Taming of the] Shrew.” Future Broadway producer, Arnold Saint-Subber witnessed the display and twelve years later asked Samuel and Bella Spewack, themselves going through a divorce at the time, to write the script. Bella Spewack in turn enlisted Cole Porter to write music and lyrics.

The Broadway production opened on December 30, 1948 first at the New Century Theatre then to the Shubert wracking up a total of 1,077 performances. In 1949 it won five Tonys including Best Musical, Best Author (Musical), Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Producer of a Musical.

A Word About Being gay in theater today

Also in the Maltz cast is openly gay actor, John Treacy Egan, a 53 year old multi-faceted actor who has appeared in plays, musicals, television and films. He plays the role of one of two gangsters come to collect gambling debts from one of the leads. Egan took time before the start of rehearsal to talk with SFGN about what it’s like to be gay in these media today.

“I was born and raised in Westchester, NY and got to visit Manhattan with some frequency as a child until I could move there to live,” said Egan. “I was the youngest of 7 and my parents were deceased before I reached puberty so I came out to siblings who were all very supportive.”

“There were many closeted gay performers in the past and I assume there still are some,” he added. “But the public is getting more accustomed to seeing openly gay actors like Neil Patrick Harris and others. It’s just not the issue it used to be.”

He speculated that being gay is less of a problem for character actors, like himself, and probably more difficult for romantic leads.

“When you come down to it, though,” he said. “You’re an actor and you’re getting cast because you can play the role. With this show I’m playing a thuggish character you would never associate with me off stage.”

Egan is not yet married to his partner, Juan Ivarra, but they’ve been together for 12 years with no shrews to be tamed. They hope to tie the knot in the not too distant future.

Asked about being a gay actor at the Maltz and Egan had this to offer, “Of course there’s no issue with sexual orientation here. Everyone is made welcome. “Andrew [Kato] is gay and he’s done a terrific job creating an environment that focuses on the success of every individual’s contribution to the total production. It’s a pleasure to be here.”

As noted, “Kiss Me Kate” at the Maltz will run from March 8 to 27. Tickets start at $55 call 561-575-2223 or visit JupiterTheatre.org

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