'Kiss Me, Kate' opens Aurora Theatre's new season

It's another op'nin', another show for Gwinnett's Aurora Theatre.

The theater venue kicked off its 14th season Thursday night, its second since moving to its Lawrenceville location, with its opening performance of "Kiss Me, Kate" in the 26-show run of the Cole Porter musical. The show recounts the backstage and onstage antics of two feuding romantic couples during a touring production of a musical rendition of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew."

"I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to present a uniquely American art form, the Broadway musical," said Anthony Rodriguez, Aurora Theatre's producing artistic director. "I am grateful to the talented artists and artisans who have dedicated their life to this work, and to the patrons who continue to support these efforts."

A cast of 12 performers are joined on stage by a live band of nine musicians playing multiple instruments throughout the show.

"The great thing that set (the music of) 'Kiss Me, Kate' apart is the operetta feel to the show," said music director Ann-Carol Pence. "When you're at 'Kiss me Kate' you hear serious songs like 'Wunderbar,' then when it's the actors telling stories, it's a really jazz feel like 'Another Op'nin',' 'So in Love, 'Tom, Dick or Harry' (and) 'Too Darn Hot.' Those numbers can really cook."

The opening Thursday was a chance for stage folks new to the Lawrenceville stage to say, "Hello," to audiences.

David Rossetti, who plays the role of Bill Calhoun playing the role of Lucentio in "The Taming of the Shrew," is just coming off a national tour of "Hairspray." The New York-based actor is staying in midtown Atlanta for the run of "Kiss Me, Kate." He is joined on stage by gun-toting

gangster Bethany Irby in her first show at the Lawrenceville location.

Glenn Rainey spent seven years performing on Broadway and returned to the metro Atlanta area to continue his theater work.

Rainey was joined in his first show with Aurora Theatre by newcomers J.C. Long (Fred Graham/Petruchio), Nick Morrett (Hortensio/ Ensemble) and Tameka Scotton (Hattie/Ensemble).

"Expect a lot of laughs," Rossetti said of "Kiss Me, Kate." "We're telling the story of Shakespeare, so within that kind of serious realm, there's lots of hilarity, energetic dancing and fun costumes, and a story I think everybody can kind of connect with."

During Friday night performances throughout the run of "Kiss Me Kate," audiences can enjoy martini specials from downtown Lawrenceville restaurant McCray's Tavern. Another downtown business, Rita's, will serve frozen treats during Saturday and Sunday matinees. The first 1,000 theater-goers to attend a show will receive commemorative pint glasses supplied by McCray's.

"Kiss Me, Kate" is the first show in a season that includes the regional premieres of two plays, "Tranced," which opens in January, and "A Catered Affair," set to open in early March. "Kiss Me, Kate" will be followed in October by the world premiere of "Buy My House ... Please!" a comedy written by up-and-coming playwright Gabriel Dean. The theater's 2009-10 season also includes the annual holiday "Christmas Canteen" and is set to conclude with the play "Boeing, Boeing."

For more information on the Aurora Theatre and its current season, call the theater's box office at 678-226-6222 or visit www.auroratheatre.com.

SideBar: If You Go

· What: "Kiss Me, Kate"

· When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 6, with a discount matinee show set for 10 a.m. Aug. 26

· Where: Aurora Theatre, 128 Pike St., Lawrenceville

· Cost: $14 to $30

· For more information: Call 678-226-6222 or visit www.auroratheatre.com