Armstrong Community Theater To Present “Kiss Me, Kate!” For Summer Musical

by KP intern Kyle Predmore

(From left to right) Donavon Mcdonald, Manorville, Courtney Bavera, Ford City, Troy Dinga, Ford City and Karissa Lloyd, Vandergrift, practice a dance routine for the upcoming musical “Kiss Me, Kate!” presented by the Armstrong Community Theatre.

Armstrong Community Theater will be performing “Kiss Me, Kate!” as part of their adult summer musical next weekend. For those who are not familiar with the musical, it is a “show within a show”.

“The show within the show for ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ is a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” actor Troy Dinga said. “The actual musical is ‘Kiss Me, Kate’, but inside the musical you have a theater company putting on a show.”

Dinga is playing the role of Fred Graham, who is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, and the two are forced to play opposite one another in his adaptation of “Taming of the Shrew”.

“Lilli is a diva,” Karissa Lloyd said. She was casted as the role of Vanessi said she enjoys the part given her natural personality is anything but a diva. “It’s just her natural personality. Lilli started in the theatre with her first love. Her and Fred were married, and have only been divorced for one year, and left the theater after the divorce to go make it in Hollywood. Lilly decided to come back when asked to be in Fred’s recent production. There’s still al title bit of chemistry between the two. That’s what causes some of the conflict because clearly the two still have feelings for each other.”

In the musical, Fred gets in a lot of trouble with gangsters because of Bill Calhoun, played by Donavon McDonald.

“My character is a gambler, and has a bit of a gambling problem,” McDonald said. “He’s in love with the character Lois Lane, who is played by Cortney Bavera. In the beginning, he wonders off and leaves the theatre. He spends an absurd amount of money and then writes an IOU. However, he signs it under Fred’s name, so the whole point of Fred getting in trouble with the gangsters is because of my character.”

Jimmy Switzer, Kittanning (left) and Mason Edwards, Ford City (right) rehearse their lines and choreography during last night’s rehearsal for “Kiss Me, Kate!”. They play different roles including two gangsters.

“Lois is a fun and flirty kind of character,” Bavera said. “She is a night club singer who is trying to make it on her way to roadway any means how.”

ACT puts on several shows throughout the year, but only two of the shows are performed at the Casino Theatre in Vandergrift.

“This will be our 4th summer at the casino,” Lloyd said. “I enjoy it there. I started doing shows there when I was 6. That’s like my home theatre and where I got my start. It was nice to come back there and show off all the restoration and work put into the place. It looks beautiful now.”

This isn’t the first time any of the lead actors have been a part of ATC. Dinga was one of the directors for the ACT Children’s Show back in June, but now has a role as an actor in the Summer Musical. He has plan on returning to college to finish his degree in Musical Theatre.

“I’m going to be a senior in high school this upcoming school year but I’ve been part of ACT since third grade. I have been doing the kids show and everything else I can help with since then,” McDonald said. “I plan on going to Point Park University and majoring in Musical Theatre. Theatre has been a big part of my life since I was little.”

“I started doing shows with ACT in 2004,” Bavera said. “I’ve done at least 6 or 7 summer shows here. But for this show, we started doing auditions in the beginning of May and started rehearsing within the first 2 weeks of May.”

You can see “Kiss Me, Kate!” at 7:30 P.M. on July 20 and 21, and at 2 P.M. on July 22 at the Casino Theatre at 145 Lincoln Street in Vandergrift.