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Clarence Brown Theatre presenting "Kiss Me, Kate"

kiss me kate
Katy Wolfe Zahn and Neil Friedman in the Clarence Brown Theatre's "Kiss Me, Kate"

KNOXVILLE -- Start with Shakespeare, add the music of the great Cole Porter, and you've got one of the most raucous, rowdy and enduring romances of all time! "Kiss Me, Kate" plays April 19-May 6 at UT Knoxville's Clarence Brown Theatre!

An on-stage "Taming of the Shrew" and a backstage "Peyton Place," this hilarious Tony award winning play-within-a-play sparkles with almost 100 costumes, a huge set, and a 14 piece orchestra playing 18 classic Porter songs. A musical comedy valentine to a life in the theater, the production is directed by Calvin MacLean and sponsored by Schaad Companies, Pilot Travel Centers and the Arts & Heritage Fund.

Cole Porter's most successful musical, "Kiss Me, Kate" originally opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre on December 30, 1948 and ran for 1,077 performances. It was inspired by the backstage relationship of theater legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontane, who appeared to argue in private almost as much as the characters they were portraying. It won five Tony awards and the first ever for Best Musical.

"I'm very excited to be directing this show," said Calvin MacLean. "It's a very challenging, sophisticated, and witty musical that has the great good sense of drawing a lot from Shakespeare which, I think, makes it especially special." Calvin MacLean (Director/Producing Artistic Director) is the Theatre Department Head and CBT Company Producing Artistic Director. CBT directing credits include: "A Flea in Her Ear," "The Life of Galileo," "The Secret Rapture," "A Streetcar Named Desire" (with Dale Dickey), and "Amadeus" with the Knoxville Symphony. Previously Head of Directing at Illinois State University, he was also the Artistic Director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. His productions in Chicago – mostly at the Famous Door Theatre – earned several prestigious Joseph Jefferson Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Direction.

Terry Silver-Alford (Musical Director) is a member of the UT Theatre faculty and teaches Musical Theatre Performance, Introduction to the Theatre and Acting. He has worked professionally in the theatre as a director, musical director, performer and composer at theaters across the country. He has directed or musically directed over 100 productions and has created the scores for four original musicals and a variety of chamber and vocal music pieces. CBT musical direction credits include: "The Music Man," "Man of La Mancha," "The Who's Tommy," "A Christmas Carol," "A Year with Frog and Toad," and "Big River."

The production features a cast comprised of UT Theater faculty, graduate and undergraduate Theater students, and community and visiting guest actors.

Neil Friedman (Fred Graham/Petruchio) is an Artist-in-Residence at the CBT. His CBT credits include: "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," "Moonlight & Magnolias," "The Music Man," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "Man of La Mancha," "Charley's Aunt," "Born Yesterday," "A Christmas Carol," and "The Triumph of Love." His Chicago theatre credits include: The Court Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire, and The Peninsula Players. He is a recipient of Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Awards. He also has performed at regional theaters throughout the country.

Katy Wolfe Zahn (Lilli Vanessi/Katherine Minola) has appeared in both opera and musical theater. CBT credits include: "The Who's Tommy," "Man of La Mancha," "Amadeus," "Woyzeck," "The Music Man," and "Putnam County Spelling Bee." She frequently performs as a soloist with the Knoxville Symphony, Oak Ridge Symphony and Symphony of the Mountains. She holds degrees from Belmont University and UT. She serves as the voice teacher for the UT MFA students. She is also the choral conductor/choreographer for a children's choir based in Oak Ridge.

Additional faculty performing in the show are David Brian Alley and Terry Weber.

Magan Wiles (Lois Lane/Bianca Minola) is UT Theater MFA candidate in her final year of study. CBT credits include: "Woyzeck," "Merry Wives of Windsor," "Tartuffe," and "Fuddy Meers." She earned a BA from Saint Louis University in 2004, became a member of Actor's Equity, and worked steadily in St. Louis for the next five years, appearing with the St. Louis Repertory Theatre, the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, and many others. Regionally she has worked with Geva Theatre Center (Rochester, NY) and the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Conrad Ricamora (Bill Calhoun/Lucentio) is a third year MFA actor (Spivey Humanities Fellowship). Credits include: Philadelphia Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, the Prince Music Theatre, the Media Theatre, and InterAct Theatre Company, among others. CBT credits include: "The Laramie Project: An Epilogue," "Oedipus the King," "Shakespeare in Love" (with Knoxville Symphony), "Woyzeck," "A Christmas Carol," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Music Man," "Tartuffe," and "Fuddy Meers." Film work: "Talladega Nights." Additional graduate actors include: Micah Shane Brewer, Johanna Dunphy, Angela Graham, Stuart Matthews, Jess Milewicz, Cory O'Brien-Pniewski, Robert Stephan and Tramell Tillman.

Undergraduate UT Theater students performing include: Drew Barksdale, Kathryn E. Hale, McKinley Merritt, Chelsea Milligan, Tyler Padgett, Kody Storm Pratt, Joseph Rebrovick, Bailey Stipes and Brock Ward.

Community and visiting actors include: Greg Congleton, Breyon Ewing, Buddy Reeder, Andy Rogers, Laura Schoonmaker and, Donald Thorne.

The design team includes: Buddy Reeder (Choreography), Christopher Pickart (Scenic Design), Bill Black (Costume Design), John Horner (Lighting Design), Joe Payne (Sound Design), John Sipes (Fight Director), Shelly Payne (Stage Manager), and Kerri Considine (Dramaturg).

"Kiss Me, Kate" runs from April 19 – May 6, 2012. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances begin at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices vary. For tickets, please call the CBT box office at 865-974-5161, Tickets Unlimited at 865-656-4444 or click

Published April 18, 2012

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