Hornsby Musical Society ends the 2019 season on a high (Theatre Review)

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On Assignment for Sydney Scoop
Editor: Rebecca Varidel


Hornsby Musical Society resuscitates a 1949 classic frame tale in a comedic battle of man and woman against the interweaved backdrop of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. 

Kiss Me Kate shows an outdatedness of ideas when it comes to its depiction of a woman’s desirability based on her worth in being married off by the patriarch.  Yet the ravishingly festive score demonstrates a timelessness,  reasserting its reputation as a Broadway classic.   

The curtains are drawn quite selectively during scene changes with Brendan Flanagan (music director), Evan Jones (lighting director) and Loud and Clear (sound designer) working a beautiful flow of transitions which for the most part, are on an open stage.

Grant Leslie Photography
Grant Leslie Photography – Hornsby Musical Society – Kiss Me Kate

There are so many themes at play for today’s audience to unpack which adds to the intriguing complexity of this comedy.   Much of its success carried by the leads – Freshwater local, James Cullen (Fred Graham) and Epping resident, Amy Neville (Lilli Vanessi) who portray a passionate backstage rivalry amongst all the backstage chaos of the show within a show. 

The explosive chemistry also encourages the brutality in the scenes which deliciously but dangerously adds to the comedy.  Their love-hate relationship is about to come to blows until fate steps in through a forged IOU signed under Fred’s name to a mobster group who forces Lilli to continue in the show she wants to leave.   The outrageous plot is layered with the effects this relationship has on the people around them.

A great choice as the not-for-profit stages just two musicals a year, the principals and ensemble that the Hornsby Musical Society have brought together are a talented group who successfully introduce this light hearted musical to a new audience.   

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Grant Leslie Photography – Hornsby Musical Society – Kiss Me Kate

The standout performances of the evening are led by Amy Neville’s velvet tones that could surpass the vocal acrobatics of opera and modern pop prowess.  The supporting cast and secondary plot of tormented love explored with Lilli’s sisters and her suitors, the engaged Lois who Fred has an infatuation with. allowing the key players in these sequences to take their moment, belting out some of the most powerful numbers of the evening to the choreography and direction of Lauren Oxenham.

There’s one more night to catch the last performance for the year.  Already the anticipation is building on the next season of Hornsby Musical Society’s next production run in 2020 beginning with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in April and Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn in October.



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Rediscover the music of Carole King:










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