Kiss Me Kate, Drury Lane Oakbrook. That giant click you hear is the sound of everything coming together in this revival of Cole Porter's musical. Fortunately for director Ray Frewen, the script is sparkling, depicting the backstage shenanigans of temperamental thespians, and Tammy Mader's choreography is unimprovable.
Hellion Lilli and egomaniac Fred, modeled on the ever excitable Lunts, enact in real life the quarreling lovers they play in a Baltimore production of The Taming of the Shrew. And if a spin-off can improve on a masterpiece, this witty 1948 gem betters the Bard. Crafting every moment expertly, Frewen delivers a cunning assemblage of perfectly timed verbal and physical comedy, top-notch singing, contagious dancing, dazzling costumes, and (not always a Drury Lane asset) convincing sets. Everything hinges on the chemistry between the tamer and the shrew. Catherine Lord's Lilli is not only the spitfire who craves to be domesticated but the dreamer ("So in Love") seeking an excuse to stop fighting love. Equally commanding as Petruchio and Fred, David Girolmo never drops a joke in his patter numbers ("Where Is the Life That Late I Led?") and registers the sheer joy of "Wunderbar."
Angie Schoofs and Richard Strimer couldn't be cuter as venal Lois and trusting Bill, both wondering "Why Can't You Behave?" But the real sensations are Don Forston and Frank DelGiudice as the vaudevillian gangsters. Their "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" is as funny as you can get without asphyxiating the audience.