YOU don't have many chances close at hand to see Opera North's new staging of Cole Porter's musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate. A couple of previews and two shows in September and four in October and that's yer lot in Leeds, so you better smooch up with Kate and the box office pretty pronto.

Otherwise, you will have to head farther afield to the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, The Lowry, Salford, or the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, and frankly it would be worth it because this show is la creme de la creme. We can only wish there could be more performances in Yorkshire, but maybe like Opera North's equally wonderful version of Carousel, it can be given a revival down the line, and the sooner the better.

There may be those who say, "Why are Opera North performing a musical?", but let's knock that one on the head straightaway. Musicals were in essence a continuation of opera but without the high art, a sort of Rugby League to Rugby Union.

York Press:

Tiffany Graves and Ashley Day in Kiss Me, Kate. Picture: Alastair Muir

What this co-production by Opera North and Welsh National Opera does is apply the best of both worlds, and so you have the American master of the musical, Cole Porter, being given the full armoury of the Orchestra of Opera North, the directing brio that Jo Davies brought to Opera North's Ruddigore, The Marriage Of Figaro and Carousel, and a cast that cherry-picks from both opera and West End musical singers. The singing is nothing short of spectacular, full of swagger and power, sassiness and not a little sexiness.

Colin Richmond's set and costume designs are an absolute joy too, so colourful and exuberant for a briskly-whisked show set on and off-stage during the production of a musical version of The Taming Of The Shrew.

Porter's musical revolves around the tempestuous love lives of actor-manager Fred Graham (handsome, flamboyant, humorous opera singer Quirijn de Lang) and his leading lady and ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi (Opera North's Jeni Bern in magnificent voice).

Enter Fred’s paramour, Lois Lane (Tiffany Graves, just as good as last time in Leeds in scene-stealing glory in The Producers), and her gambler boyfriend Bill Calhoun (fast-rising musical theatre star Ashley Day). A battle of the sexes ensues, played out with delightful timing and effervescence, and further oomph comes from a couple of gun-wielding gangsters (Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin), who become caught up in the show. Their little-and-large act for Brush Up Your Shakespeare brings the house down.

What's so wonderful is how director Davies makes the most of every moment, so that not only the principals excel. For example, Royal Ballet choreographer Will Tuckett gives Act II a sensational opening with Too Darn Hot, where Wayne Robinson's Paul keeps turning up the temperature with both his singing and dancing, and the whole joint is soon jumping. Don't miss this Kiss.

Kiss Me, Kate, Opera North, Leeds Grand Theatre, in repertoire tomorrow, October 21, 30 and 31 at 7.15pm, then on tour. Box office: 0844 848 2700 or