“It gives the insights to the audience of the performers that entertain for the evening,” said Inland Valley Repertory Theatre Director Frank Minano. “Although the show takes place in 1948, these personalities and situations are alive and well in 2010.”
The Cole Porter musical is being performed at the beautiful Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont featuring exceptional talent.
Minano graduated from UC Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts degree and from South Coast Repertory Theatre’s Professional Conservatory.
“I have performed with several civic light operas and dinner theatres throughout Southern California,” he says. “In 1990 we began Inland Valley Repertory Theatre and I began to direct many of the productions, as well as perform from time to time; the title role in Sweeney Todd being my favorite role.”
Minano received his MBA from the University of La Verne in 2001 and has been balancing family, the theatre and a career in the media for 22 years.
“I have the best of both worlds!” he says.
Although Kiss Me, Kate has been around for decades, Minano was introduced to the show with the revival production on Broadway in 2000.
Kate uses the play-within-a-play device, in this case a musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew as a backdrop for the antics of the characters; director Fred Graham, his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (who plays the titular role of Kate), and Fred’s new girlfriend Lois. The music and lyrics were written by legendary composer and songwriter Cole Porter.
“I instantly fell in love with the Cole Porter classic tunes, the great script, the dancing and the wonderful characters,” he says. “Combining Shakespeare with music in this setting is clever and very entertaining.”
The cast includes Alison England as Lilli/Kate and Dirk Rogers as Fred/Petruchio.
“Ali is a pro, having been on Broadway as Mrs. Santa in the Rockettes Holiday Show,” Minano says. “She is an entertainer that has it all—the voice, timing—the perfect Kate.”
Dirk Rogers has many years of experience in most of the stages throughout Southern California.
“His voice is perfect for this score,” Minano says.
Allison Knight and Chris Giroux work “all over” and can be seen leading any dance number. And Valerie Jasso, Robert Hoyt and Vil Towers are also seen in many productions throughout the area.
“I basically have a cast of seasoned professionals—the toughest job for me was casting,” Minano says. “These pros make it easy. I am also complete with the perfect directing team: casting director Hope Kaufman, Ronda Rubio and Dave Osborn as music directors; Jenny Wentworth as costumer; and Jeff Teague as choreographer. This show unites Teague and me, as he has returned to Southern California having directed/choreographed many award-winning productions in the Alameda area.”
According to Minano, Cole Porter wrote the production when his wife of many years was very sick and eventually passed away.
“While their relationship was anything but simple, it is very poignant to know that he wrote Kiss Me, Kate with her in mind,” Minano says.
While IVRT has been around for 20 years at various venues, the partnership with Candlelight Pavilion is now in its third year.
“While Candlelight has specialized in quality musical dinner theatre for 25 years, they have expanded to be a full performing arts center with home to IVRT, plus cabaret shows and concerts and children’s workshops,” Minano says. “This is a perfect partnership and one that we work to continue for many years to come.”
Inland Valley Repertory Theatre’s Kiss Me, Kate at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater, 455 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont, (909) 626-1254; www.ivrt.org, www.candlelightpavilion.com. Shows Aug. 4, 11.