Footlights

March roars in like the proverbial theatrical lion. Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” from the Golden Age of Broadway musicals is revived but also gently reworked for the #MeToo era; the Motown songbook of The Temptations goes round and round in the biomusical “Ain’t Too Proud,” which chronicles the R&B group’s amazing rise to fame in the turbulent 1960s; and the fortunes of an immigrant family’s rise and fall is the cautionary tale of “The Lehman Trilogy,” a monster hit in London but here in New York for a limited engagement only.

Kelli O’Hara and Will Chase in rehearsal for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate.” (Jenny Anderson, 2019)


CUT TO THE CHASE
”Everything for me starts with the text,” says Will Chase, speaking of “Kiss Me, Kate,” the Broadway revival of the Cole Porter musical comedy from 1949 in which he plays not one but two roles. As Fred Graham, he’s the star, director and producer of a musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” As Petruchio in the show within the show, he’s the misogynist who’s “come to wive it wealthily in Padua.” How does Chase differentiate between the bravado and machismo of Petruchio and the actor portraying him? For that, he went outside the text and the world of the theater to the movies. “Oddly, I looked to Errol Flynn. In my thinking, Fred would want to look like Flynn. I know most Fred/Petruchios in the past have had a mustache and goatee. But I’m going with a little skinny mustache. Flynn had an ease when he walked into a room. I want to do that with Fred. Petruchio takes over the stage, but Fred is looser, a little more—and I hate this word—likable.”  |  Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., 212,719.1300

The cast of “Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations.” (Joel Dockendorf)


MADE IN DETROIT
Writing the book for the new Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud—The LIfe and Times of The Temptations” was a labor of love for Dominique Morisseau. “I feel connected to The Temptations because [like them] I grew up in Detroit,” she says. “They were my mother and father’s favorite group, and my family has all these beautiful memories that I get to resurrect.” As to the story of the legendary Motown R&B group, Morisseau believes that there is no better time to tell it than now. “They came up in the ’60s with all the political activism and civil unrest going around, and we’re so there now. We are in the next ’60s. I think that watching a story of how these young men found their identity, achieved their desires, followed their dreams and were true to themselves with all that social change happening is going to really resonate with people. It’s the perfect human story.” Morisseau also wants audiences to appreciate The Temptations as artists, not just entertainers. “I hope [the show] gives a deeper insight into what it took to make their music. It costs so much to make art.”  |  Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St., 212.239.6200

Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley in “The Lehman Trilogy” at the National Theatre. (Mark Douet)

RISE AND FALL OF A DYNASTY

The American Dream became a nightmare for the real-life family at the center of “The Lehman Trilogy,” written by Stefano Massini and adapted into English by Ben Power. Emigrating from Bavaria in the 1840s, the Lehman brothers achieved wealth beyond imagination, but in 2008 the firm they founded filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial crisis. How could it have happened? Find out at the Park Avenue Armory, where Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley (above, left to right) star as the brothers, their sons and grandsons.  |  Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave., 212.616.3930, March 22–April 30