TAMPA — High school and college students from the Patel Conservatory Youth Theater program will join members of the adult acting program onstage for the musical Kiss Me, Kate, running today, Saturday and Nov. 15-17 in the TECO Theater at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
The show features 23 students from schools including Plant, Robinson and Blake high schools, the University of Tampa, the University of South Florida and Hillsborough Community College's Ybor campus.
It is the first show directed by new musical theater instructor Adam Wagner, who has worked in Cincinnati, New York City and most recently as artistic director of Grandstreet Theatre in Helena, Mont.
"The first day of rehearsal was his first day," said Ami Sallee, theater department chairwoman. The cast has been rehearsing four days a week since early September.
The 1948 Tony-winning musical, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, tells the story of the onstage and offstage conflicts of a theater company putting on a musical version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.
In addition to putting on a show, the program aims to teach students how a professional theater production is run, Sallee said. During the first two weeks of rehearsal, the cast researched the show in groups and put together presentations for fellow cast members on topics such as the show's history and time period.
"It's like a laboratory environment as well as a rehearsal process," Sallee said.
The show includes a full orchestra and large sets, she said. The program opted for a traditional musical production after performing a rock musical over the summer and a "create your own" musical last year written by the program's students.
Keeley Sheehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3321.