Kiss Me Kate" could be described as Shakespeare meets Cole Porter at Juneau-Douglas High School - but that would shortchange the dancing.
There's plenty of dancing in the high school musical production, which opens Friday.
"It's Shakespeare's version of 'Taming of the Shrew,' but it's done with Cole Porter songs," said director Shanna Galluzzo.
Becky Engstrom choreographed the show and worked extensively with the teen-age dancers, whom she described as serious performers. She said styles range from modern and jazz to waltzes and Italian dances.
"There's a large cast and they are die-hards," said Engstrom. A dance teacher and performer, Engstrom has worked on shows in the past that required simplifying the choreography to accommodate the limitations of a cast. Not this time.
"I didn't have to simplify a thing. If they didn't pick it up right away they'd ask, and they wouldn't give it up," she said. "This includes backflips, jitterbugging, swinging girls around your body, partnering, some gymnastics - I even threw in some Brazilian martial arts moves."
"Kiss Me Kate" is a play within a play within a play, said Galluzzo. Set in Baltimore in the 1940s, it tells of an estranged couple reunited for a theatrical production.
"It's about a couple who's divorced, because their egos are so big," Galluzzo said. "They're both still in love with each other but neither will admit it, which leads to the sparring, which mirrors the 'Taming of the Shrew.' They drop out of character and Kate becomes Lilli fighting with Fred, her ex, who is playing Petruchio. You don't know who is taming who."
She said the play leaves the audience wondering, "Are they in the play, are they acting in 'Taming of the Shrew' or are they being Lilli and Fred?"
Melissa Tribelhorn and Matt Monagle play the leads, Lilli and Fred, who play Shakespeare's Kate and Petruchio. Derrick Grimes and Maddie Levy play major supporting roles but Galluzzo said the entire cast gets plenty of stage time in the 2 1/2-hour show. About 60 students perform on stage, with dozens more in the band and technical crews.
"There's a lot of other characters," Galluzzo said. "And lots of solos from different students."
"Kiss Me Kate" features 18 Cole Porter songs, including, "So In Love," "From This Moment On," and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare." Originally a Broadway musical, it was made into a film in 1953.
JDHS music teacher Ken Guiher directs a 20-piece band from the orchestra pit below the stage. Susan Horst directs the singing.
"Kiss Me Kate" shows 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It runs Feb. 28 and March 1 and 2. Tickets are $10, $8 for students, in advance at bookstores, and $2 more at the door.