Monday, July 25, 2011

Brandywiners present 'Kiss Me Kate' at Longwood Gardens

KENNETT SQUARE   True to the theatrical tradition that “the show must go one” the Brandywiners are putting the finishing touches on Kiss Me, Kate, their 80th consecutive summer production. Rehearsals continue outdoors in authentic woolen Shakespearean costumes at the world famous Longwood Gardens despite the Delaware Valley’s record breaking heat wave.
"Kiss Me Kate" is one of  Cole Porter’s masterpieces.  He wrote the musical in 1949, 12 years after an equestrian accident left him paralyzed, almost ending his career. Inspired by Rodger and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma, which had just revolutionized American theater, he penned Kiss Me, Kate, a complex yet hilarious play within a play, where the interior play is a musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and the play itself is inhabited by the actors playing in the musical version.
Set in Baltimore in the 1948, the play’s signature song, "Too Darn Hot," is sung backstage between acts by the actors who are in Baltimore trying out for Broadway. With average summer temperatures in the high 80s and no air conditioning at the time, the song rings true for the Brandywiners who are struggling with the heat this summer as well.
The Brandywiners are one of the oldest community theater groups in the country. They were founded during the Depression in 1932 by then recent college graduates Frances Tatnall and Chick Laird. Reminiscent of today, the economy was down and prospects for college-age people were far from promising, so they decided to bring some cheer to their friends and family by putting on a show.
Pierre S. du Pont, former president of DuPont, then owner of Longwood Gardens, and patron of  the theater happily gave Tatnall and Laird, du Pont’s nephew, permission to use the Open Air Theatre. The hastily arranged production of "Pirates of Penzance" was a smashing success, and actually turned a profit, all of which was donated to charity on, launching a tradition which continues to this day.
Tickets can be purchased on line at  or by calling 800 338-6965. Tickets include free all-day admission to Longwood Gardens.


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