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'Tis the season: Three English-language plays not to miss this winter

20:59 22/11/2019

Winter is a busy season for English-language theatre in Brussels, with groups calling on the acting and musical talents of the international community to bring you a feast of theatre, pantomime and musical productions.

Kiss Me Kate

BLOC’s production choice this winter is Kiss Me Kate, winner of the first-ever Tony Award for best musical in 1949. Kiss Me Kate was written by husband and wife team Bella and Samuel Spewack with Cole Porter providing the music and lyrics and which ran for more than 1,000 shows after its premier on Broadway in 1948. It is the story of the turbulent relationship between Fred Graham and his ex-wife, Lillie Vanessi, who are trying to stage a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Fred is not only the director and producer of the musical he is also its lead character, Petruchio, and Lillie is playing Katherine the shrew. Even though he is constantly arguing with Lillie he still has the energy to pursue a relationship with Lois Lane, a sexy, young actress who plays Shakespeare’s Bianca. However, Lois’s gambling boyfriend, Bill, has signed an IOU debt of $10,000 in Fred’s name, getting him into an awful lot of trouble.

In BLOC’s version, Tony Lowe, BLOC’s chairman, is playing the part of Fred (and Petruchio) but he assures us that Fred really does love his ex-wife Lillie. “Rehearsals are going great, very intense, an awful lot of dialogue, but we’re on top of it”, says Lowe, whose wife Angela is also in the show. “This is the first Cole Porter (musical) that BLOC has done”, says stage director Diana Morton-Hooper. “There are so many popular songs in this show you will leave the theatre humming them to yourself - it is that kind of a show”.

21-24 November, Auderghem Cultural Centre, Boulevard du Souverain 183, Auderghem

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is the theatrical choice of the Brussels Shakespeare Society this winter - and director Marianne Farrar-Hockley assures us that “we will be taken on a holiday” and leave the theatre feeling rather warm. Set in Sicily, Shakespeare’s comedic play is one of the most accessible plays and is suitable for all audiences, both young and old but “there’s also a second very darker level that the adults can appreciate”, said Patrick Stevenson who plays Benedick. As we expect from Shakespeare, the road to love does not run smooth for the four main characters. Claudio, who is to be married to Hero, is tricked into rejecting her at the altar and Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into professing their love for one another. To find out if the perpetrators of these tricks are punished in true Shakespearean style you will have to go and see the play.

3-8 February, Espace Theatral Scarabaeus, Rue Creuse 19-27, Schaerbeek.  

Beauty and the Beast

The ECC is bringing Beauty and the Beast back to the stage this winter, which has been written and directed by Chris Jones and Chris Goddard. True to pantomime tradition, ECC expect lots of audience participation as “we break the fourth wall a lot”, says Jones, who hopes that his jokes are as funny for the audience as they were for him when he wrote them. The popular story of Beauty and the Beast, where Belle replaces her father as a prisoner in the Beast’s house because her father stole a rose from his garden, becomes more of a comedy when performed as a pantomime. Dame Blanch, Prince Charleroi, man-hunting sisters Louisa and Stefanie, Jean-Claude Fantastique and Hector the horse come together to transform the original story into an interactive theatrical performance of music, song and dance with lots and lots of laughs.

17-19 January, Auderghem Cultural Centre, Boulevard du Souverain 183, Auderghem

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Written by Noreen Donovan