There were two sides to Cole Porter: the populist, American standard Porter who gave us singalong standards like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “I Get A Kick Out Of You”; and the classically trained Porter with an ear for the grandiose. Kiss Me, Kate delivers on both accounts, and Opera North’s delightful production does justice to what was to be Porter’s biggest hit. Read more
Cole Porter's iconic musical Kiss Me Kate originally opened in London at the London Coliseum in the West End on 8 March 1951 where it ran for 400 performances.
The musical had try-outs at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphia in December 1948 and the original Broadway production opened on 30 December 1948 at the New Century Theatre. The show initially ran for nineteen months before transferring to the Shubert Theatre where it ran for 1,077 performances, with an original cast that included Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison and Lisa Kirk.
Featuring a book by Samuel and Bella Spewack and music and lyrics by Cole Porter the musical is based on William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and is presented as a play-within-a-play that follows the on and off-stage conflict between Fred Graham, the show's director, producer, and star, and his leading lady, his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi. Written in response to Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Kiss Me Kate was an early example of an integrated musical and was Porter's first to include music and lyrics that were connected to the book.
The London Coliseum was once again the home to Kiss Me Kate when a London revival opened in December 1970 presented by the Sadler's Wells Opera.
The Royal Shakespeare Company revived the show at the Old Vic Theatre in 1987, directed by Adrian Noble and starring Nichola McAuliffe and Paul Jones. The show returned to the Old Vic in a production by Trevor Nunn which starred Alex Bourne, David Burt, Adam Garcia, Clive Rowe and Hannah Waddingham in 2012.
A major Broadway revival opened at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 18, 1999, running for 881 performances directed by Michael Blakemore and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall and Rob Ashford. This production transferred to London's Victoria Palace Theatre running for just under a year in October 2001.
Opera North most recently revived Kiss Me Kate in a new production directed by Jo Davies and choreographed by Will Tuckett. Co-produced with the Welsh National Opera, it played as part of the the celebrations of Shakespeare 400 and opened at the Leeds Grand Theatre in September 2015 before touring to Theatre Royal Newcastle, The Lowry Salford, and Theatre Royal Nottingham. The production returns to the Leeds Grand Theatre in May 2018.
Kiss Me Kate begins on the opening night of a new musical version of The Taming of the Shrew in 1940s Baltimore, as the cast and crew celebrate "Another Opening, Another Show". The relationship between the actor-manager Fred Graham and his ex-wife leading lady Lilli Vanessi is at fever pitch and the pair continue to spat on and off stage. Fred's current love interest Lois Lane continues to create trouble for the whole company as her gambler boyfriend Bill gets embroiled in the producing, bringing two gangsters into the mix which creates a high-energy and explosive farce amongst Shakespeare's text. Cole Porter's score includes hits such as "So in Love", "Brush Up Your Shakespeare", "Always True to You in My Fashion" and "Too Darn Hot" and remains as one of the most enjoyable classic musicals.