Opera Scotland

Kiss Me, Kate

Music

Cole Porter

Text

Samuel and Bella Spewack (book)

Cole Porter (Lyrics)

Source

Comedy The Taming of the Shrew (c1594) by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

 

Premieres

First Performance: New York (New Century Theatre), 30 December 1947.

First Performance in UK: London (Coliseum), 8 March 1951.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (King's Theatre), 9 June 1952.

 

Background

Kiss Me, Kate was recognized from its 1948 New York opening as one of the great modern musicals. It enjoyed a long run, met with near equal success in the UK, both in London and on tour, while it was also quickly made into a highly enjoyable cinema production.

 

Main roles

Fred Graham, leading actor and producer.

Lilli Vanessi, leading lady, Fred's ex-wife

Lois Lane, a cabaret artiste

Bill Calhoun, a cabaret artist, her partner

Hattie, Lilli's maid

Harry Trevor, an elderly actor

Harrison Howell, Lilli's rich lover

Two Gangsters

 

Plot Summary

The plot involves the preparations for a production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew by a touring theatre company.

The plot of the play is fairly simple. A rich merchant, Baptista Minola, has two daughters. The elder, Katharine, is seen as a termagant who alienates everyone, while the younger, Bianca, is pursued by a group of young bachelors. Baptista announces that he has decided that no-one can marry Bianca until a husband has been found for Kate. Bianca's most favoured suitor, Lucentio, is able to rope in a friend from out of town, Petruchio, who, in need of money, agrees to take her on. They are duly married and, treating her with cruelty, he seems to bring her to an accommodation, as a result of which their relationship appears to be viable. Lucentio is then permitted to marry Bianca.

In the theatrical framework, final rehearsals in Baltimore are marred by the constant squabbling between Fred and Lilli. Recently divorced from one another, they have embarked on the search for new partners, but are committed to playing Kate and Petruchio on stage.

Bill and Lois also have a rocky relationship, partly due to his compulsive gambling. Having stayed out all night, he arrives at the theatre, having signed an IOU for $10000 in Fred's name. Fred is mystified when two gangsters arrive in his dressing room intending to call in the debt.

Various complications ensue, not least the fact that Fred and Lilli both come to realise, independently, that they are still in love with one another. 

The Cast

Bill Calhoun
 a cabaret artist (Lucentio)
Cab Driver
 
First Gangster
 
Fred Graham
 leading man (Petruchio)
Gregory
 
Gremio
 
Harrison Howell
 a wealthy politician, Lilli's lover
Harry Trevor
 (Baptista Minola)
Hattie
 Lilli's maid
Hortensio
 
Lilli Vanessi
 leading lady, Fred's ex-wife (Katharine Minola)
Lois Lane
 a cabaret artiste (Bianca Minola)
Nathaniel
 
Paul
 
Phillip
 
Ralph
 the stage manager
Second Gangster
 
Stage Doorman
 
Stage Manager
 

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