INTERVIEW: Zoe Rainey talks about bringing KISS ME KATE back to the London Coliseum

Kiss me Kate is returning to the London Coliseum where it premiered in 1951. How does it feel to be part of the team to be bringing the show home?
Wow, I actually had no idea that was the case so this makes me very excited indeed. What an honour to bring this beautiful show back to such an incredible theatre. After 67 years I have a feeling the audiences will enjoy it just as much, if not more!

The show features songs such as Too Darn Hot and Another Op’nin, Another Show that have had a life outside the musical. What is it about these songs that have had lasting appeal?
Well not only lyrically do these songs lend themselves to being used in lots of different scenarios but they are also unbelievably catchy and feel good. Even before doing this show I used to quote these songs on a press night or a summers day but now having performed them in front of an audience I understand why people love them. They are at the beginning of each act and are the perfect way to catapult the audience into a fun evening of musical theatre.

You recently starred in An American in Paris. That film came out just three years after Kiss me Kate premiered on Broadway. Is there something about that era that resonates with you?
Absolutely!! I adore this era. These musicals are what I grew up on and they had a huge impact on me and are what I love about this industry. They also shaped who I am as a singer so it is always such a joy to sing them.

You were also part of the Plays at the Garrick season, appearing in Romeo and Juliet, quite different to the musicals. Do you enjoy straight plays as much as musical theatre?
The Branagh Season was an extraordinary company to be a part of. I loved every minute and learned so much. I have a huge love and respect for Shakespeare and the actors who make it come alive. I do enjoy straight plays as much as musical theatre and I think its so important for me as an actress to explore both, as each informs the other. The more I learn in one area, the more I seem to be able to offer to the other.

Talking of Shakespeare, how linked is Kiss me Kate to Taming of the Shrew?
There is actually a lot more Shakespeare than I remembered in Kiss me Kate. The company are putting on a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew so throughout the show we see them begin at the half hour call and the show ends with the last scene of the play and the bows. As far as the offstage characters are concerned, there are some links with personality and character relevations but the beauty is there are 2 very strong storylines playing along side each other. You are really routing for the characters offstage and then we have a lot of fun with first night hitches.

The Coliseum has returned to its roots of bringing in popular musicals in recent years with the likes of Sunset Boulevard and the recent production of Chess. Do you think there is still a snobbery towards musical theatre?
I think there will always be snobbery because people always want to feel superior to someone. It seems human nature for some reason but then I get on stage and hear the audience’s reactions and how much they are enjoying themselves and I don’t even worry. Plus I have done a few musicals with older actors who have never done a musical before who always end up with huge admiration for musical theatre performers and the discipline and hard work they have to put in.

It helps that they are making movie musicals again. It feels like there has been an injection of love for them again. In a time when the world feels so uncertain it is nice for people to go to the theatre and escape whether it be musical, play, ballet or opera. They are all incredible tools to challenge us or clear our minds for a few hours. It is no coincidence that these wonderful musicals were all written shortly after world war II. People need to laugh.

Is there a role, regardless of gender, that you would love to play in a musical?
Oh gosh, so many!! Any and all really. Especially as you say the Gershwin/Cole Porter era! Anything with Judy Garland, Ann Miller, Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. But I’m also a huge fan of new musicals, so many of the roles I would love to play haven’t even been written yet. Exciting to think what they might be.

What can audiences expect from this production of Kiss me Kate and why should they come to see it?
I don’t think there is another musical around that has something for everyone the way our show has. We have a musical that has Shakespeare, Opera and is choreographed by Will Tuckett so even ballet too. Plus it’s like Nosies off meets The play that goes wrong, so it’s a lot of fun! And finally you’re getting to see this show return to the biggest, most beautiful theatre in London so it will be an extraordinary night out for all.

Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
Interview by Harrison Fuller

Kiss Me Kate plays at the London Coliseum 20-30 June 2018. Book tickets

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