Entertainment

Raunchy, gutsy ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ showcases glorious Kelli O’Hara

Whether she’s hitting high notes or swatting her male co-star, Kelli O’Hara — funny and fierce — is reason enough to see “Kiss Me, Kate.”

This 70-year-old hodgepodge of showbiz shenanigans and Shakespeare is hardly the tightest tale ever told. But it’s got a jewel box full of hummable Cole Porter gems, including the lush “So in Love,” the frisky “Why Can’t You Behave” and the rousing “Another Op’nin,’ Another Show.”

In this Roundabout Theatre revival, O’Hara and Will Chase play film star Lilli Vanessi and producer-director-actor Fred Graham, sparring ex-spouses whose personal battle bleeds into their roles as Katharine and Petruchio in a touring musical of “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Supporting players Lois Lane and Bill Calhoun (Stephanie Styles and Corbin Bleu) add their own romantic antics. All told, Bella and Sam Spewack’s un-PC story makes “Kiss Me, Kate” an Actors’ Equity and human resources nightmare.

But all’s well that ends well, thanks to Scott Ellis’ witty staging, which brims with visual gags and cheekiness.

Set designer David Rockwell keeps things moving seamlessly as the action glides back and forth between Baltimore, where the play within the play is trying out, and the Bard’s Italy. And Warren Carlyle’s choreography is dynamite: “Too Darn Hot” sizzles and, in another number, Bleu sings and taps his heart out — even upside down.

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