Jon Sowden
Director
(Kiss Me Kate - 2000)

Kiss Me Kate is no ordinary musical. True, it had the most phenomenal run of any Cole Porter show on Broadway, but more than that, it represented the composer's triumph over adversity.  For his death in 1964 at the age of 73 was the culmination of 27 years of agony after a riding accident in which he had both legs crushed.

Following this mishap, for more than a third of his life Cole Porter had been a helpless invalid, undergoing dozens of operations and the final ordeal of amputation.  That this tortured man, his enormous talent vitiated by constant and excruciating pain and lack of sleep, could write at all was amazing enough. That he could produce in Kiss Me Kate, the wedding par excellence of intricate melodies to literate, witty lyrics was a miracle.  The fact that it met with an equally literate, witty book from Bella and Samuel Spewack was a bonus, helping to earn it a Perry Award, 1,077 Broadway performances from 1948 to 1951 and as many again round the world and at the London Coliseum where its star, Patricia Morison, took it after it had closed in New York.  Every outstanding composer has his masterpiece and Kiss Me Kate was Cole Porter's.  Only because it set such high standards did his remaining shows, Can Can (1953) and Silk Stockings (1955), seem of comparatively minor quality.

The talented performers of the Willow Tree Theatre Company are no strangers to high standards and I am delighted to have been invited to direct this production.  It is an ideal show in which to stretch the skills of the musical theatre student containing, as it does, strong elements of music, dance and classical acting.  It was as a company management tutor at the Guildford School of Acting 1991 that I first realised the qualities of Kiss Me Kate in this regard.  It is now a standard production in drama schools.  Many of our performers are skilled practitioners of their craft while others are still developing their skills and undoubtedly have bright futures.  The thing they all have in common is an infectious enthusiasm and love of the theatre.  I am sure that this will be evident in this performance.

"Another op'nin another show"

Jon Sowden

Director