Michel Schmid, Jesse Pavlovic, Beau Solley, Steve Tressler, Andy Szuran, Jon-Anthony Mosby, & Lily Ann Tillman in The Kiss Me Curse. Photo: Highview Arts Center.
The Kiss Me Curse
Written & directed by Vin Morreale, Jr.
A review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Has it really been seven years since I saw Vin Morreale’s first production of The Kiss Me Curse? That staging was well cast and charming as all get out and at the time compared it to Craig Lucas’ Prelude To A Kiss in utilizing a supernatural element to explore romantic relationships.
If I am not mistaken, Morreale has tweaked his script in ways that would seem to answer my qualms about the length and the role of the Narrator. For a romantic comedy, it still feels a little long, but overall this new rendition carries its length well and uses the Narrator (a very professorial Craig Nolan Highley) with more clarity.
Angie Buckner (Jesse Pavlovic) believes she was cursed in high school by a romantic rival, the curse being that her kiss will cause her and the recipient to fall madly in love but the recipient will die three months later. Their ghostly form is then attached to Angie, who can see and converse with them.
In the course of the play, we witness Angie meeting husbands #13 (Andy Szuran), 14 (Michael Schmid), and 15 (Beau Solley) as well as the presence of husband #1 (Jon-Anthony Moseby) and #12 (Steve Tressler). Eventually, and quite unexpectedly, Maggie (Lily Anna Tillman), who had originally placed the curse about 10 years before, appears on the scene to complicate matters in ways that push boundaries ever so slightly.
For all of its clever trappings, there is an aspect of Angie’s character that I didn’t remember from 2016. Perhaps it is from a change in the script, or maybe the difference in the two performances of her, but this time around Angie seems more culpable in the fate of these men. Once she fully understands how the curse works and its inevitability, say after 3 husbands, isn’t each husband a new victim, intentionally chosen by her? It is not that much of a reach to see Angie as something of a killer, however innocent the play positions her. At the very least, she is reckless to the point of homicide.
Of course, it is really Maggie’s doing, and one can argue that Morreale does allow consequences for the actions of his characters. At the performance I attended, the audience seemed greatly entertained by the clever dialogue and bright, energetic playing. It was a healthy audience for a Sunday matinee, an indicator that the theatre experiment in Highview is drawing a crowd.
Jesse Pavlocic does make for a sympathetic Angie, a winning performance that overcomes any moral qualms, and her posse of husbands convinces us of their devotion, alive or dead. They are all solid, but I particularly enjoyed Jon-Anthony Mosby’s ingenuous and funny line delivery and Michael Schmid’s blend of clowning and deadpan. Lily Ann Tillman is new to me on a theatre stage, but she is a natural and confident presence clearly capable of much more than her relatively brief time onstage allows here.
It’s of no small value that a play written by a Louisville playwright is getting a second production, and The Kiss Me Curse is selling out quickly, so it makes one wonder if it might join titles such as Brian Walker’s The Dirty Sexy Derby Play in having a 3rd production.
Featuring Craig Nolan Highley, Jon-Anthony Moseby, Jesse Pavlocic, Michael Schmid, Beau Solley, Andy Szuran, Lily Ann Tillman, & Steve Tressler
The Kiss Me Curse
February 10, 11, 17 & 18 @ 7:30 PM
February 12 & 19 @ 2:00 PM
Highview Arts Center
7406 Fegenbush Lane
Louisville, KY 40228
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.