Porter's modern "battle of the sexes" version of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew is one of Broadway's most beloved musicals. A play-within-a-play, it follows behind the scenes as arrogant actor-producer Fred Graham and his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi battle and flirt their way through a performance of Shakespeare's classic.
The musical comedy originally opened in 1948 on Broadway, where it ran for 1,077 performances until 1951. Later that year, it re-opened in the West End at the Coliseum where it boasted a further 400 performances. Kiss Me Kate was recreated for the screen in 1953, with Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel in the leads. The last major London production was mounted in 1997 at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park. This new revival opened at Broadway's Martin Beck Theatre on 18 November 2000.
It's directed by Briton Michael Blakemore, who scored a double-whammy at last year's Tony Awards, by winning for his direction of both the musical as well as Michael Frayn's award-winning drama, Copenhagen (originally seen at the National and in the West End). In New York, Blakemore also won a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Kiss Me Kate. Blakemore's other recent London credits include Alarms and Excursions and Mr Peters' Connections.
American Brian Stokes Mitchell will return to the role of Fred/Petruchio in the London production of Kiss Me Kate. Mitchell won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance. Further casting has not been confirmed and will, doubtless, be subject to negotiations between British and American Equity, the actors' union.
Kiss Me Kate features music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a book by Sam and Bella Spewack. The revival is choreographed by Kathleen Marshall with music direction by Paul Gemignani, sets by Robin Wagner, costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski and sound design by Tony Meola.
- by Terri Paddock