Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi are quite a pair.

They are divorced from each other, fiercely competitive, jealous and love to whisk up uncomfortable passions in the other.

Oh yeah, they're also starring together in a musical version of "The Taming of the Shrew" -- and it's opening night.

"Kiss Me, Kate," a musical featuring the madcap antics of those lead characters, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, and Saturday, Sept. 14, and Sept. 19 to 21 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, and Sept. 22 at the Northland Performing Arts Center, 4411 Tamarack Blvd. in Columbus.

"Kiss Me, Kate," written by Bella and Samuel Spewack, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, is set in Baltimore in 1948.

"It's one of the greatest classic Broadway musicals," said Susan Bunsold Wilson, who plays Vanessi.

Graham is played by Cabot Rea, a retired news anchor for WCMH-TV (Channel 4).

In the Shakespeare play within the play, Rea also has the role of Petruchio and Wilson is Katharine.

"It's interesting because early on we decided we still care about each other, but I have an ego," Rea said.

"And I have anger issues," Wilson said.

Producer Kent Stuckey said the high-energy musical is a farce, with plenty of physical comedy.

The director is Bill Goldsmith, who retired in June after 30 years as artistic director for the Columbus Children's Theatre, for which he directed more than 250 performances.

"Kiss Me, Kate" is his first production after his retirement.

Goldsmith said the feeling is familiar but a lot of things are different.

"I'm just adjusting to a new environment, new space and new teams," he said.

Admission is $20 for seniors 65 and older and students ages 13 and older, $25 for adults and $15 for those 12 and younger.

Tickets may be purchased at www.kissmekate614.com or by calling 614-262-7469.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary