Opera Scotland

Kiss Me, Kate 2010Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Read more about the opera Kiss Me, Kate

Pitlochry Festival Theatre for most of its life opened for a summer rep season from May to October in which audiences were encouraged to 'stay six days and see six plays'. Shortly after the new theatre opened, there was an experiment in the mid-eighties when that policy was abandoned, reducing the enterprise to being much like 'any other theatre'. Fortunately when Clive Perry was appointed as director the old policy was restored and the theatre ran successfully through the nineties. On Perry's retirement, the appointment of his successor, John Durnin, completely unknown in Scotland, might have been an issue. However his directorship lasted fifteen successful years from 2003 to 2017, retained the traditional summer season, and expanded activities to open all year round. The 'bright idea' he announced that prompted serious doubts in some quarters, was the proposal that the repertoire should expand to include musicals. Any live band would have to be on stage (no pit), while employing a larger team of musicians for one or two performances per week among the non-musicals would seem extravagant and difficult to arrange.

Not to worry. 2009 was deemed by the Scottish Government to be the 'Year of Homecoming' with members of the Scottish diaspora encouraged to return. All six pieces in the repertoire at Pitlochry were Scottish, and the classic Compton Mackenzie comic novel and film Whisky Galore! became the basis of a highly successful musical. Many of the instruments required were played by the actors themselves, giving a perfect depiction of a small rural community in action. But how do you follow that?

The repertoire chosen for 2010 was a return to the successfully eclectic mix audiences were used to - a popular modern comedy (Michael Frayn's Noises Off); an unknown Scottish premiere in Tom Stoppard's Rough Crossing; an acknowledged British masterpiece in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband; an American revival - William Inge's Bus Stop; and an unusual experiment in Olwen Wymark's dramatization of the once-controversial Emile Zola classic Nana. And then there was Kiss Me, Kate. The musical and the Frayn opened the season in tandem, and ran through to October, while rehearsal of the others continued apace until all six were up and running.

The complement of actors for the season totalled eighteen, and only one of those was missing from the Kiss Me, Kate cast. Even those described simply as dancers or stagehands in the musical would play leading roles in other productions. Several of the actors were making their debuts at the theatre, while others were familiar veterans. The late Martyn James was in his twenty-third season, with Dougal Lee in his ninth.  Jon Beales controlled the music in masterly fashion, and was presumably responsible for the excellent orchestration based on what instruments were available. Thirteen musicians were named in the programme, and ten of those were stage performers as well. Most of them were able to play more than one instrument. George Rae had two roles as well as playing violin, keyboards, percussion and ukelele. Kate Quinnell, as well as taking a central role (Lois Lane), played violin, keyboards and clarinet. Dougal Lee, Second Gangster, played reeds, woodwind, mandolin and percussion. The whole enterprise fizzed with energy and was hugely enjoyable, as instruments were grabbed from invisible handlers in the wings, played for a few seconds, then returned to the wings without missing a beat or breath while continuing with the non-stop singing and dancing. Great fun.

Performance Cast

Fred Graham leading man (Petruchio)

Graham Vick 2

Harry Trevor (Baptista Minola)

Martyn James

Lois Lane a cabaret artiste (Bianca Minola)

Kate Quinnell

Lilli Vanessi leading lady, Fred's ex-wife (Katharine Minola)

Martine McMenemy

Bill Calhoun a cabaret artist (Lucentio)

Sandy Batchelor

Hattie Lilli's maid

Naomi Lee Schulke

Ralph the stage manager

George Rae

Harrison Howell a wealthy politician, Lilli's lover

David Alcock

First Gangster

David Delve

Second Gangster

Dougal Lee

Gremio

George Rae

Hortensio

David Malcolm

Paul

David Malcolm

Phillip

Jennifer Rhodes

Gregory

David Malcolm

Performance DatesKiss Me, Kate 2010

Map List

Festival Theatre, Pitlochry | Pitlochry

14 May, 20.00

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