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Kiss Me, Kate is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. It is structured as a play within a play, where the interior play is a musical version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

Kiss Me, Kate was a comeback and a personal triumph for Cole Porter. After several successful musicals in the 1920's and 1930s, notably Gay Divorce, Fifty Million Frenchmen, and Anything Goes, he experienced an equestrian accident in 1937 that left him in constant pain. Following the accident, he continued to write songs and musicals but with limited success, such as Mexican Hayride, Let's Face It!, and Something for the Boys, and some thought he was past his prime. Kiss Me, Kate was a response to Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and other integrated musicals, and it proved to be his biggest hit and the only one of his shows to run for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway. It won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical, in 1949.


After a 3½ week pre-Broadway tryout at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphiamarker starting December 2, 1948, the original Broadwaymarker production opened on December 30, 1948 at the New Century Theatre, where it ran for nineteen months before transferring to the Shubertmarker, for a total run of 1,077 performances. Directed by John C. Wilson with choreography by Hanya Holm, the original cast included Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk, Harold Lang, Edwin Clay, Charles Wood, Annabelle Hill, Lorenzo Fuller, Eddie Sledge, Fred Davis, Harry Clark and Jack Diamond.

The original West Endmarker production opened on March 8, 1951 at the Coliseum Theatremarker, and ran for 400 performances. Directed by Sam Spewack with choreography again by Hanya Holm, this production starred Patricia Morison, Bill Johnson, and Julie Wilson.

A Broadway revival opened at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 18, 1999 and closed on December 30, 2001 after 881 performances and 28 previews. Directed by Michael Blakemore and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall and Rob Ashford, the opening night cast included Marin Mazzie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Amy Spanger, Michael Berresse, Ron Holgate, Lee Wilkof, and Michael Mulheren. This production won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, and Lee Wilkof received a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor.

A West Endmarker revival opened at the Victoria Palace Theatremarker on October 30, 2001 and closed on August 24, 2002. As with the 1999 Broadway revival, Michael Blakemore was the director with choreography by Kathleen Marshall. Brent Barrett and Marin Mazzie co-starred.

The Italian Version opened at the Teatro delle Celebrazioni in Bolognamarker on December 31, 2007. Directed by Franco Pulvirenti and choreographed by Ruggero Bogani. The cast included Cosetta Gigli, Edoardo Guarnera, Pippo Santonastaso, Josè Arpino, Gaia Bellunato, Italo Ciciriello, Guido Trebo, Massimiliano Drapello and Maria Grazia Valentino.


Act I
Egotistical Fred Graham is the director of a Broadwaymarker-bound musical version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. He and his diva movie-star ex-wife Lilli Vanessi star opposite each other in the roles of Petruchio and Katharine (The "Kate" of the title). The pair argue backstage as only people in love can argue. Meanwhile, Fred's new girlfriend, Lois Lane, who plays Bianca, is romantically interested in Bill Calhoun, the actor playing Lucentio. Bill loves to gamble, and it turns out that he has signed Fred's name to a big IOU [for $10,000 from a game of craps]. Also, flowers sent by Fred to Lois are mistakenly delivered to Lilli, and Lilli realizes that she still loves Fred.

Everyone is in the middle of performing The Taming of the Shrew on stage when Lilli discovers that Fred's flowers were really intended for Lois, and she starts an all-out war mid-performance that threatens the production's success. At the same time, a pair of gangsters have come after Fred to collect the gambling debt, since his name is on the IOU. Only a successful show will provide the money that Fred needs to avoid getting his fingers broken. Fred slyly uses the gangsters to prevent the furious Lilli from walking out on the show. The gangsters join the cast to keep an eye on Lilli. Lilli channels her anger into a fierce performance as Katharine, and Fred loses his temper and spanks her as Petruchio.

Act II
After intermission, "The Shrew" progresses as Petruchio marries Katharine and soon misses the single life. The gangsters find out that their boss has been killed, and so the IOU is worthless, and they leave, noting that guys who know Shakespeare can impress the ladies. Lilli quits the show, walking out with her dependable fiance Harrison. On stage, Bianca and Lucentio are finally married. As "The Shrew" comes to a close, Lilli unexpectedly returns to the stage, and speaking as Katharine, she admits her love for Fred. Lilli and Fred are reunited, Lois and Bill come together, and all ends happily.

Cultural references and Lexicon

  • In homage to Noel Coward, Fred quotes (in part) a famous comic line from the playwright's 1930s' play Private Lives saying "Women should be struck regularly like gongs."

  • The homophones "aye" and "I" are used to comic effect in the second act.

Film and television

A film version of the same name was released in 1953. There have been at least four television productions, the first on Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1958, with Drake and Morison reprising their Broadway roles, the second recorded for the launch of BBC Two in the UK in 1964, starring Howard Keel, Patricia Morison and Millicent Martin, the third in 1968 with then husband-and-wife team Robert Goulet and Carol Lawrence, and the fourth in 2003 on Great Performances, a high-definition shot performance of the Londonmarker revival with Brent Barrett and Rachel York.

Song list

Act I
  • "Another Op'nin', Another Show" - Hattie and Company
  • "Why Can't You Behave?" - Lois, Bill
  • "Wunderbar" - Fred, Lilli
  • "So In Love" - Lilli
  • "We Open In Venice" - Fred, Lilli, Lois, Bill
  • "Tom, Dick or Harry" - Bianca, Lucentio, Gremio, Hortensio
  • "I've Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua" - Fred and The Men
  • "I Hate Men" - Lilli
  • "Were Thine That Special Face" - Fred
  • "Cantiamo D'Amore" - Company
  • "Kiss Me, Kate" - Fred, Lilli and Company

Act II
  • "Too Darn Hot" - Paul and Company
  • "Where Is the Life That Late I Led?" - Fred
  • "Always True To You In My Fashion" - Lois
  • "From This Moment On" - General Howell and Lilli (Broadway revival)
  • "Bianca" - Bill and Company
  • "So In Love (Reprise)" - Fred
  • "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" - First Gangster, Second Gangster
  • "Pavane" - Company
  • "I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple" - Lilli
  • "Kiss Me, Kate (Finale)" - Company

In 1998, the original cast recording of the 1948 Broadwaymarker production was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Awards and nominations

Original 1948 Production 1999 Revival 2001 London Revival
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production (nominee)
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical (Marin Mazzie, nominee)
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical (Brent Barrett, nominee)
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Nancy Anderson and Michael Berresse, nominees)
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best Direction of a Musical (nominee)
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best Choreography (nominee)
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best Set Design (nominee)
  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best Costume Design (nominee)
  • Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical (winner)
  • Critics Circle Award for Best Musical (winner)


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