In his brief 70 years on this planet, native Oregonian and creative icon Will Vinton left an indelible artistic stamp on Portland, and far beyond, with his animation, Claymation, and films. One of his last projects prior to his death in 2018 was a musical comedy, The Kiss. A hilarious adaptation of The Frog Prince, The Kiss enjoyed its World Premiere on July 15 at Lakewood Theatre.
In honoring his father’s last request, Jesse Vinton has done the man proud. The story was developed by Will Vinton, Jesse Vinton, Jon Newton, Jim Cox, and Greg Tamblyn. Will Vinton, Jesse Vinton, and Greg Tamblyn collaborated on the book. Pop/contemporary composer and lyricist David Pomeranz wrote the music and songs that so perfectly tie the show together.
Those attending this family-friendly romp are guaranteed to laugh out loud. When young prince Arro (Keaton Fields) declares himself the Handsome Hero and runs off to slay a dragon, his best friend and princess Ember (Sophie MacKay) is left behind. Everyone assumed the pair, who grew up playing in the mud and climbing trees together, would eventually marry. But the fiery and feminist Ember has had enough of this egotistical male and declares herself no longer his friend.
Arro does slay the dragon, and brings home a souvenir to prove it, but Ember will not even look at him. A new bridegroom must be located fast. Enter the knight Raoul (Collin Carver), accompanied by a resentful witch, Gladys (Emily Sahler). Gladys was jilted at the alter some years back by Ember’s father, King Gordo (Douglas Webster). He may have forgotten the incident, but Gladys never did. She has groomed Raoul for his role as bridegroom to the princess, and he’s all for it if he can just leave the cheese alone. Meanwhile, Gladys turns Arro into a frog.
As Arro adjust to his new self, alone in the forest, he is met by three benevolant creatures–Granny Racoon (Melissa Standley), Benny Beaver (Eric Zulu), and Sheldon the Snail (Troy Sawyer). When they learn his sad situation, mid ribbits that sound like a cat coughing up an epic hairball, they conspire to do a little spy work and get behind what’s really going on. Back at the castle, Ember takes one look at Raoul and decides she’s not interested. But feminism or no, the line must continue if there’s to be a kingdom. Reluctantly she agrees to a royal wedding. And then things really heat up.
Other cast members include Quinn Boyd as the young princess, Amanda Mills, Blythe Woodland, Joey Klei, Austyn Stone, Jeremy Garfinkel, Robert Altieri, Emily Anderson, Amy Lichenstein, and Tasha Danner.
Key collaborator Greg Tamblyn directs the production, with music direction by Kristin Van Sickle; choreography, Erin Shannon; music producer/conducter, Jon Newton; set design, Curt Enderle; costume design, Sarah Gahagan; projections design, Julia Scanlon; sound design, Michael Bard; lighting design, Ian Anderson-Priddy; properties, Micah Nicolas; masks, make-up, and wig design, Diane Trapp; stage manager, Kendra Comerford; producer, Steve Knox.
The Kiss runs through August 21 at Lakewood Theatre in Lake Oswego. Tickets are available here.