Tucked away in the New Hampshire college town that borders Lake Sunapee, is the New London Barn theater. It is the oldest summer theater in New Hampshire and one of hundreds across America that run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They feature musicals that comprise the American songbook, a little Shakespeare and in some cases, the drama of American icons of theater like Thornton Wilder. Heavy drama is best left to the cities of the US when the weather cools and the need to be out of doors is not so pressing as it still is early in August.
Our friends A &B live in the next town to New London along with the Hub’s goddogs ( like a god child, but canine) Layla and Blackjack. Every summer we have a theater nite with them and this weekend was a perfect weekend to drive up lush green country roads Into New Hampshire. Not too hot, blue skies, no humidity.We arrived in late afternoon on Saturday and had a lovely dinner at http://www.74mainrestaurant.com that featured well prepared, fresh and local food and tasty libations.
From there we decamped to the playhouse for a truly splendid staging of “Kiss Me, Kate”. In all the years we have had this little weekend theater vacation, this was the best production we have seen yet. Most of the productions feature student interns that are supplemented by Equity actors.
I had forgotten that this particular show featured the music and lyrics of Cole Porter and how many wonderful songs came from this 1948 musical. The songs tell the story of the backstage/onstage intertwining of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” at a tryout in Baltimore during a heat wave. “Another Openin’, Another Show” and ” Too Darn Hot” along with “Always True to You in My Fashion” come from this show, but everyone, including me, forgot that possibly the most beautiful song that Porter ever wrote “So In Love” comes from this show.
Performances by the principal Equity actors, Sara Schoch as Lilli/Katherine and Ryan Andes as Fred/Petruchio are wonderful. Katherine’s sung soliloquy of ” I Hate Men” was a high point, but special note has to be given to the two interns who played the hapless mobster lunkheads, sent to collect on a duplicitous IOU from the racetrack. Brilliant!