Stunning CFT show

Chichester Festival Theatre has the happy knack of coming up with some wonderful, memorable shows. Kiss Me Kate was no exception.

It’s more than 60 years since Cole Porter staged his first production of the musical and the passage of time has done little to diminish its popularity or its success.

We went along to the Festival Theatre to see Stephen Mear and Trevor Nunn’s version of the Broadway musical and it was sensational.

I’ll dispense with superlatives, save to say it was possibly one of the best renditions of Porter’s musical – if not the best – I have ever seen.

My wife also sang its praises.

“It almost blew me away,” was how she put it.

The friend who accompanied us described it as ‘a sheer delight’.

What a night. The theatre was packed to the gunnels – more than 100 shades of grey – and there was encore after encore after the finale.

The star of the show, among many, was Hannah Waddingham, who played Hollywood vamp Lillie Vanessi. Hannah has Broadway blood coursing through every vein and a voice to crack chandeliers.

Alex Bourne, the ex-husband Fred Graham, provided the bravado and wooed the audience with a macho voice to match his shrew.

Every number, from Another Op’nin, Another Show right down to Brush Up Your Shakespeare and From this Moment On was delivered with panache and expertise.

The show had been running a few weeks so it was polished to perfection.

The dance routines were superb, backed by a creative team and an orchestra (unseen but certainly heard) that would have delighted Cole Porter. Shakespeare would have loved it.

It was, from beginning to end, a stunning performance.

A fitting tribute to Chichester Festival’s 50th birthday.

Geordie Campbell

Barrack Lane, Aldwick