ABOUT THE PLAY
The Cole Porter musicals of the 1940’s–-Let’s Face It, Something for the Boys,
Mexican Hayride—were not vintage Porter shows. One of them, Around the World
in Eighty Days (1946) with a book by Orson Welles, was a bomb. It folded in a few
weeks. So much, then, was riding on the next Porter musical, Kiss Me, Kate (1948).
Had the new kind of musical –Oklahoma!, Carousel–passed Porter by? Was he
washed up? Not to worry. Kiss Me, Kate was his biggest hit and longest run–107
performances–and probably his best musical score. The book by Bella and Sam
Spewack, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew, is clever. We watch
the tryout in Baltimore of a musical based on Shrew and are also backstage of the
musical watching the tempestuous relationship between stars Fred Graham and Lilli
Vanessi (based on Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and their production of Shrew
with its backstage fights which parallel what is going on onstage). If the book
doesn’t always hold together and has holes in it – no matter. The show is fun and the score is great.
A personal note: of the more than 50 roles I have performed for SCCT, way up on
my list of favorites is the Second Man in Kate. Wearing tights and singing “Brush
Up Your Shakespeare”, who could ask for anything more?
Richard B. Gidez