Clark directs ACO’s ‘Kiss Me Kate’
On Friday, the Arts Center of the Ozarks’ debuts its production of “Kiss Me Kate” — the 1949 musical that features 18 of Cole Porter’s most bubbly compositions — and at the helm will be the youngest director to ever take on a production at ACO. Coleman Ray Clark, a 2015 Fayetteville High School graduate who currently attends Manhattan Marymount College in New York City, returned this summer to guide the project.
Watching him command the attention of 35 actors, help a stage manager call light cues and make decisions on costumes and set design at a recent rehearsal, it’s obvious that he is more than up for the challenge.
Clark says he considered around 25 musicals before narrowing it down to one. “Kiss Me Kate” won the first Tony Award ever presented for Best Musical in 1949. It’s a frothy comedy that removes the “fourth wall” for the audience and allows them to peek behind the scenes as a troupe of actors — replete with comical problems that include gambling addictions, romantic turmoil and friendly rivalries — open a musical version of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” in Baltimore.
“I was interested in the fact that ‘Kiss Me Kate’ could pull a lot of different people together,” says Clark. “It goes beyond racial, age or gender boundaries. It’s very welcoming of anyone who would want to audition, with any level of experience.
“It’s not an easy show. It has longer scenes and is a longer musical. It requires talented actors who are willing to take on a big challenge — and we have that.”
— Lara Hightower
‘Kiss Me Kate’
WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday; again July 21-23
WHERE — Arts Center of the Ozarks, 214 S. Main St. in Springdale
COST — $15-$45
INFO — 751-5441