A wonderful respite from freak snowstorms and cabin fever, "Kiss Me, Kate" transported its Madeira School audience to a lighthearted era of cheerful chorus girls and dancing gangsters. This feel-good musical, which played to an appreciative crowd last weekend, was brimming with memorable songs and characters.

"Kate," Cole Porter's 1948 hybrid of Shakespeare and musical comedy, recounts the love/hate relationship between divorced actors Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham.

As the show opens, the two have been reunited in a Baltimore theater to star in a musical version of "The Taming of the Shrew." Sparks fly, and romantic tensions surge as Lilli and Fred alternate between mad affection and stormy squabbles.

As the story line progresses, their antics are juxtaposed with those of their "Shrew" counterparts, Katherine and Petruchio. The happy ending finds the romantic spark between Lilli and Fred rekindled.

Sarah Crane, as Lilli, combined spunky mannerisms and bell-like singing to create a very engaging character. She mastered Lilli's mercurial mood swings, shifting effortlessly from tender to raucous and back again.

Opposite Crane, Garry McLinn was chauvinistic and haughty, though he lent a heartfelt, compassionate side to Fred. His rich baritone added to an entertaining performance.

Paul Baumbusch and Duvall Osteen, as seedy "Shrew" co-stars Bill and Lois, were slick and fun to watch as they sang and danced through "Tom, Dick or Harry" and "Too Darn Hot." Similarly, the bumbling mobsters played with energy by Kat von Kann and Janie Nutter set a high standard for the entire cast.

The show had many strong technical aspects. The large-scale scenery was moved quickly, and the lighting was generally well executed, with only a few confusing cues.

On a frosty night, this rambunctious production proved sunny enough to warm many a heart in the audience.

Sam Willmott

Thomas Jefferson High School

Ah, love!

Romantic courtship from a balcony, loving mementos of admiration, sweet serenades by candlelight . . . and if that doesn't work, break out the whip and put the woman in line!

Madeira School had a full house in its theater last weekend when the curtain rose on the musical comedy "Kiss Me, Kate." The show is set in a theater in Baltimore where a musical version of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" is about to open.

Fred (played by Garry McLinn) has his hands full as the male lead and director. Not only that, he must deal with his ex-wife, Lilli (Sarah Crane), who stars as Katherine, the shrew. Crane and McLinn's enchanting voices charmed the audience in "Wunderbar" and "So in Love Am I."

Madeira, a girls school in McLean, recruited boys for a few roles but drew largely from its own talent pool. As gangsters, Kat von Kann and Janie Nutter were as believable as any guy thugs, hilariously stealing the show with their tribute to the bard, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Aside from a few technical glitches and some stage combat that lacked believability, "Kiss Me, Kate" was a wonderful show to see, especially with someone special.

But please, if he says no, don't retaliate by throwing flowerpots from a balcony!

Katherine Lowry

Langley High School

Madeira School's "Kiss Me, Kate," with its twist on Shakespeare, was a welcome respite from the snow outside. Sarah Crane, left, mastered Lilli's mood swings and singing while Garry McLinn was chauvinistic and haughty yet compassionate as Fred -- and sang well too. Jackie Prater, left, as Nora and Kate Lumpkin as Hattie bring some pizzazz to the Cole Porter classic "Kiss Me, Kate." Madeira School's production sparkled in almost all respects.