“No one tells stories through movement like Warren Carlyle,” says Kiss Me, Kate star Stephanie Styles.
Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to find dancing as athletic (“Too Darn Hot” is a 10-minute, 45-second endurance test, not to mention a technical feat) and tap-filled as the latest revival of the show-within-a-show musical from Roundabout Theatre Company.
From the illusion of backstage chaos in Kate’s opening number “Another Op’nin’ Another Show” to the final curtain, Carlyle manages to consistently one up himself with each number. “The choreography is extremely fresh also with some respect to past movement during that time,” says Adrienne Walker. “Things in the late ’40s were edgier than we realize. There's a good amount of fresh for today and a great amount of respect for yesterday.”
Of course, “Too Darn Hot” has always been the highlight of any incarnation of the show—including Stanley Wayne Mathis’ rendition in the 1999 revival, showcased at that year’s Tony Awards. Carlyle knew he had to do something distinct. “I wanted to add Bill Calhoun into that,” Carlyle explains. “In the script he's referred to as a hoofer. So I thought how fun that tap dance would be his language. I inserted him into ‘Too Darn Hot,’ I thought it would be a fun way of giving it a lift, giving it a gear change, having a new idea, making that number uniquely ours for this generation and then also I get to have James T. Lane who comes in and matches Corbin [Bleu] and we get to see the two of them blow the roof off together.”
“In the studio you knew this is the best choreography of anything I've ever seen and then it stops the show,” says star Will Chase of the number.
A self-taught tapper, Carlyle’s “rhythms are unconventional” and he uses sounds and movement vocabulary to deepen character and to wow his audiences—and cast members—to tears.
Watch the full video above for more, plus a look at the dance performed onstage at Studio 54.
Kiss Me, Kate currently plays Broadway’s Studio 54 in a limited engagement through June 30, 2019. Click here for discounted tickets.