East Allegheny High School performs 'Kiss Me, Kate'
East Allegheny High School's music department invites you to see Shakespeare — performed by a post-World War II troupe with behind-the-scenes activity that could have the Bard rolling in his grave.
Or maybe he wonders why he didn't come up with “Kiss Me, Kate,” Cole Porter's Tony award-winning 1949 answer to the Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein musicals.
Jamie Rosenbayger and Zack Banks are Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham, who in turn are Katherine and Petruchio in “The Taming of the Shrew,” an ill-starred courtship as done by an ill-starred couple.
“They're actually divorced,” said Carla Fiumara, who with Raymond Tonsich is student producer helping teacher Amanda Rosco oversee her fifth spring musical.
“(Graham) does something to make (Vanessi) angry,” Carla said. “He spanks her on stage.”
Jamie and Zack are veterans of the East Allegheny stage.
She was a Follies girl in “Crazy for You,” Cindy Lou Who in “Seussical,” and last year the older daughter Tzeitel in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
He was Moose in “Crazy for You,” Horton in “Seussical” and the student revolutionary Perchik in “Fiddler.”
“It is stressful,” Zack said of his dual roles.
“Crazy,” Jamie said.
Still, he's “filled with excitement on show days” and she finds it “always entertaining.”
As Thursday's opening nears, “we're practicing lines most of the time,” Zack said.
“Supposed to be, most of the time,” said Jamie, who with classmate Trelynn Stevens is dance co-captain.
The “Kiss Me, Kate” troupe also features a gambler named Bill Calhoun, played by Adam Bannister. Calhoun plays Lucentio in “Shrew” and signs Graham's name to an IOU.
This brings out gun-toting gangsters played by Mike Grivna and Tony Belobrajdich, looking for Graham.
“He never finds out why,” Carla said, “but he uses it to his advantage to keep (Vanessi) in the play.”
Other complications include the former Mrs. Graham's fiance, General Harrison Howell, played by Sam Richardson, and pursuits of Lois Lane by Mr. Graham and Bill Calhoun.
Neither man is all that super and this Lane isn't in a newsroom. Kristen Psica plays Lane and her “Shrew” character, Bianca.
Like Jamie and Zack, Kristen and Sam are wrapping up high school thespian careers. Sam was a cowboy in “Crazy for You,” the Grinch in “Seussical” and the Rabbi in “Fiddler.” Kristen was Irene Roth in “Crazy for You,” Thing 1 in “Seussical” and the daughter Shprintze in “Fiddler.”
Adam is a freshman. As a sixth-grader played the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” at Logan Middle School.
“It is confusing, but it is fun,” Adam said of his role as Bill/Lucentio.
“It's stressful, but it is worth it,” Kristen said.
Rosco's aides also include Callie Norman as MPA — Mama's Personal Assistant.
That's a tradition that began last year, Rosco said. A student “was more worried about me than about anything else.”
Carla and Raymond's roles include stage time — she's Hattie, he's Hortensio and Stagehand No. 2.
“When we came into the musicals, the seniors helped us become what we are now,” Carla said. “It is our job to help the younger students learn the ropes like we did.”
While the senior leads may try the stage in the future, none see theater as a career.
Kristen is looking at a future in the fashion industry and may go to Kent State, Jamie plans to go to Bella Capelli Academy to learn hair styling and Zack is considering business courses at Community College of Allegheny County.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.