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Summer Production 2006
Kiss Me, Kate


Musical Background

Shakespeare Caricature Courtesy of Paul Forde
 

Kiss Me, Kate

  Background of the Show
  Synopsis of the Show
  List of Characters
  Orchestra Instrumentation
  List of Scenes
  List of Musical Numbers
   
 

RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS
Revival Production Recording

1999 Broadway Revival Cast Recording
Recommended Recording: Amazon Link
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie

OPTIONAL LISTENING
Original Production Recording

Recommended Recording: Jay Records Link - Amazon Link
Kiss Me, Kate, Jay Productions LTD
Masterworks Edition - 1993 - CDJAY2 - 1296

National Symphony Orchestra, John Owen Edwards Conducting

 
 
 

BACKGROUND OF COLE PORTER & KISS ME, KATE

MUSICAL
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter - Book by Bella and Samuel Spewack

STAGE PRODUCTION
Kiss Me, Kate played for 1,070 performances on Broadway at the New Century Theatre and for 501 performances in London at the Coliseum Theatre. The original cast included Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang. It is currently being revived at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway. The original cast introduced in 1948 by Columbia Records, had the distinction of being the very first original cast recording done for the new medium.

MOVIE
Originally filmed in 3-D, Kiss Me, Kate was made into a film musical in 1953 by MGM. The movie starred Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, and Keenan Wynn, and featured Bob Fosse, Carol Haney, and Tommy Rall as specialty dancers.

TELEVISION
The 1999 revival of Kiss Me, Kate was taped in 2002 and directed by Michael Blakemore. It stars Brent Barrett, Rachel York, Nancy Anderson, and Michael Berresse.

AWARDS
1948-1949: 5 Tony Awards for Musical, Authors, Composer and Lyricist, Costumes and Producers
1999-2000: 5 Tony Awards for Revival, Orchestrations, Director, Actor and Costume Designer
 
 
COLE PORTER
Cole Porter was born on June 9, 1891 in Peru, Indiana. His father was a pharmacist and his mother was from a wealthy family. His mother started his musical training at an early age, with violin lessons at 6 and piano at 8. He was also writing music at a young age with his first operetta when he was 10. This was done with with help from his mother. His grandfather wanted Cole to become a lawyer, and saw that he attended Worcester Academy and then Yale University beginning in 1909. He became a member of the famous secret society, Scroll and Key at Yale. He spent a year at Harvard Law School in 1913 where he decided to concentrate on music and transferred to Harvard's School of Music.

In 1916, Porter's first Broadway production, See America First, was staged. Based on the book by Lawrason Riggs, the show was a flop and closed after two weeks. After the failure, he moved to a luxury apartment Paris. He would often tell people that he had joined the French Foreign Legion, but he really worked for the Duryea Relief Fund. He lead a playboy lifestyle and in 1918, he met Linda Lee Thomas. She was a Kentucky-born divorcée several years older than Porter and once dubbed the most beautiful woman in the world. They were married in 1919.

Although Porter was homosexual, it was not uncommon for wealthy gay men to marry wealthy socialite women at that time. They both got what they wanted from the relationship. Linda was the glamorous wife of a world famous songwriter, and Cole always had a beautiful woman on his arm when it was convenient.

In the late 1920s, Porter returned to New York and began writing some of his most popular songs, including “Night and Day,” “You're the Top,” “Begin the Beguine” and “Love for Sale.” The next decade was his most productive, working with the biggest stars of the day and writing scores for hits that include Anything Goes, Gay Divorce, and Born To Dance. After moving to Hollywood in the early 1930s, Porter and his wife separated. Porter's sexuality became more and more open during this time and many of his affairs became public knowledge. The children of his longtime friend Ray Kelly still receive half of Porter's royalties copyrights.

In 1937, Porter crushed his legs in a riding accident. Although Porter underwent more than forty surgeries on his legs that left him in constant pain, he continued to write hit musicals. Can Can, Silk Stockings and, what many consider to be his finest work, Kiss Me, Kate. He was often in severe depression from the pain and underwent the latest treatment for depression, electric shock therapy, which at that time would be considered barbaric by today's standards. He died in Santa Monica on October 15, 1964 and was interred in the Mount Hope Cemetery, Peru, Indiana.

In 1946, Cole Porter's life was made into the movie Night and Day starring Cary Grant and Alexis Smith and directed by Michael Curtiz. His life was again put to celluloid in the 2004 movie. De-Lovely, starring Kevin Kline as Porter and Ashley Judd as Linda. Cole Porter left a legacy of sophisticated lyrics, clever rhymes, and complex forms.

 
 

 
 

SYNOPSIS OF KISS ME, KATE

Another Op'nin' Another Show welcomes you to Baltimore and to the opening of a musical version of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew." The cast is on stage and receiving final instructions from Fred Graham, the director. A play-within-a-play unfolds, where each of the four main cast member's on-stage performance is complicated by what is happening in his off-stage life. Fred takes the roles of director and male lead, Petruchio. His ex-wife Lilli, now a movie star with a reputation for being difficult to work with, plays Katharine, the shrew. Fred's current love interest, Lois, plays the role of Bianca, and the other man in Lois' life, Bill, plays the role of Lucentio.

Before the curtain rises on "The Shrew" we find out that Bill has a gambling problem. He tells Lois that he signed a $10,000 IOU for a debt in Fred's name, instead of using his own name. Not long after Lois begs Bill to stop gambling, two thugs show up at the theater to make it clear that Bill will have to make good on that IOU. But they confront Fred instead of Bill, since Fred's name is on the gambling debt. Lois asks Bill Why Can't You Behave? Fred and Lilli reminisce nostalgically about their other performances together, and their warm feelings for each other return -Wunderbar. When flowers sent by Fred to Lois mistakenly get delivered to Lilli, Lilli falls even more deeply in love with Fred -So in Love.

We are brought into Shakespeare's world with We Open in Venice. It is not long before we are told that Lucentio (Bill) may not marry his love Bianca (Lois), until Bianca's older sister Katharine (Lilli) the shrew is married off. Bianca enjoys flirting with her gentlemen callers in Tom, Dick or Harry. Fortunately for Bianca and Lucentio, Petruchio (Fred) comes to town looking for a wealthy wife and is not scared off by Katharine. Petruchio explains his goal in I've Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua and Katharine makes her feelings clear in I Hate Men. Lilli finally discovers that the flowers Fred sent her were actually intended for Lois, and we hear her shriek in outrage from offstage. In Were Thine That Special Face Petruchio sings of his strong feelings for Katharine. Lilli threatens to walk out of the show, but is forced to stay. Fred convinces the two gangsters that he will be able to pay them the money he allegedly owes them, if they can make sure Lilli continues to play her role. The gangsters put on costumes and become part of the cast of "The Shrew" to stay close to Lilli. Lilli uses her anger toward Fred to express herself as Katharine for the rest of the show. Fred is forced to get tough with Katharine as he plays Petruchio. Kiss Me, Kate closes the first act.

The second act opens with Too Darn Hot, which gives the cast a chance to relax outside the theatre during intermission. Back at "The Shrew" Petruchio marries Katharine, and already misses his relatively peaceful single life in Where Is the Life That Late I Led? Lois and Bill sing of their relationship in Always True to You (In My Fashion) and then Bill sings Bianca. When the gangsters call their boss to 'check in,' they find out that the boss has been killed. This makes Bill's IOU worthless, so the gangsters can leave. Lilli takes the opportunity to walk off the show, and leaves with her dependable fiance Harrison, as Fred reprises So in Love. The gangsters get caught up in the limelight and pay an unusual tribute to Shakespeare in Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Bianca and Lucentio are finally married. As "The Taming of the Shrew" comes to a close, Lilli unexpectedly returns to the stage, and in Katharine's words expresses her intention of returning to Fred -I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple. Lilli and Fred are reunited, and Lois and Bill are together.

 

 
 

 
 
CAST OF CHARACTERS
DANCE NOTE: - Yes means that this is a role for someone with some experience in dance (often with classical/jazz/tap dance training). Many of these roles are intended to be featured dancers.
- Some means that there the role requires some dancing, but not necessarily a trained dancer. The ability to learn simple dance steps is neeeded.
- No means no dance ability is necessary.
AGE NOTE: The age range is a general guide to the approximate age of each character. Some characters can be played older or younger depending upon the director's vision. The plus sign (+) next to an age indicates that there is no specific upper limit on age for that role.)
 
Role

Baltimore Players
(* Principal singing role)
Shrew Players
Voice Type (Range)
Dance
Age Range
Pops (Stage Doorman)
-
Ensemble part of male quartet for Opening Act One & "Bianca"
Padua Priest
- 3rd Male Solo for "Cantiamo D'Amore"
Baritone/Bass
No
60+
* Hattie (Lilli Vanessi's Dresser)  

(g) a — f2
Some
30+
* Paul
- Fred Graham's dresser, specialty dance and leader of solo trio for "Too Darn Hot"
 

c — f#1
Yes
20-40
Ralph (Stage Manager) Ensemble singer
Any
Some
20+
* Lois Lane
- A night club singer in her first featured role on stage
Bianca Minola

g — f2
Yes
20-35
* Bill Calhoun
- A Broadway hoofer, Lois' partner and chronic gambler
Lucentio

G — e1 (f1)
Yes
20-35
* Lilli Vanessi
- A star stage and screen actress, the former wife of Fred Graham
Katharine Minola
a — g2 (bb2)
Some
35+
Dance Captain
- Servant to Petruchio / Ensemble dancer & Padua recorder player
Gregory
Yes
20+
* Fred Graham
- Writer, producer, director, actor and superman
Petruchio

Bb — f1 (g1)
Some
35+
Harry Trevor
- A veteran character actor
Baptista Minola
No
50+
Stagehand #1 (electrician) & Cab Driver
- Part of male quartet for Opening Act One and "Bianca"  
Nathaniel - servant to Petruchio
- Padua mandolin player & 2nd male solo for "Cantiamo D'Amore"
Some
20+
* First Man
- Gunman-enforcer
"Aide" to Katherine
- half of the donkey for Finale Act Two

B — d1 (f1)
Some
30+
* Second Man
- Gunman-enforcer
"Aide" to Katherine
- half of the donkey for Finale Act Two

B — d1
Some
30+
* Flynt — Aide to General Howell
- Ensemble dancer & motorcyclist
Gremio (first suitor)

Bb — g1 (a1)
Yes
20-35
* Riley — Aide to General Howell
- Ensemble dancer & motorcyclist
Hortensio (second suitor)
- 1st Male Solo for "Cantiamo D'Amore

(Bb) d—a1
Yes
20-35
Stagehand #2 (assistant electrician)
- Part of male quartet for Opening Act One and "Bianca" & Stage Musician — part of vocal trio for "Too Darn Hot"
Philip - servant to Petruchio
- Half of the donkey for "We Open In Venice."
Some
20+
Stagehand #3 & Driver for General Howell
- Part of male quartet for Opening Act One and "Bianca" & Stage Musician
- part of vocal trio for "Too Darn Hot"
Haberdasher
- Half of the donkey for "We Open In Venice."
Some
20+
* General Harrison Howell
- Career military officer, politician and Lilli's "new" man
 

B — f1
No
40+
Wardrobe Lady
- Part of female quartet for "Bianca."
ensemble singer
Some
18+

ensemble singer
- Part of female quartet for "Bianca."

Padua Inn Waitress
Some
18+
two women_—ensemble singers
- Part of female quartet for "Bianca."
two women—ensemble singers
Some
18+
four women—ensemble dancers four women—ensemble dancers
All Ranges
Yes
18+

Ensemble:
Company SATB singers & dancers

citizens of Padua
All Ranges
Some
14+
 
 

 
 

ORCHESTRA INSTRUMENTATION

Full Orchestration

Strings
Winds
Percussion
Violin 1 (doubling mandolin) Reed 1 - Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Soprano & Alto Timpani (2 Drums)
Violin 2 (doubling mandolin) Reed 2 - Flute, Clarinet, Alto Conga (for stage cue)
Viola (doubling violin) Reed 3 - Flute, Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, Tenor Glockenspiel
Cello Reed 4 - Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Bari Vibraphone
Bass Horns Xylophone
Harp Trumpets I, II Marimba
Guitar Trombone (doubles bass trombone) Temple Blocks (4 pitches)
Keyboard   Bass Drum (Gran Cassa) w/attached Cymbal
    Trap Drums (Bass, Snare, Tom Toms, Hi-Hat Cymbal, with Brushes, Sticks & mallets)
    Suspended Cymbals (crash, splash, sizzle & Chinese)
    Finger Cymbals
    Mark Tree
    Bell Tree
    Crotale
    Wood Blocks (2 pitches)
    Horse Hooves
    Triangle
    Tambourine
    Cow Bell
    Gong
    Guiro
    Sleigh Bells
    Cabasa
    Whip
    Sandpaper Blocks
    Ratchet
    Rattle
    Siren
    Mouth Siren
    Shaker
    Duck Call
    Bulb Horn
    Rainstick
    Fight Bell
    Ship's Bell
    Brass Bell (or "G" Chime)
    Steel Plate
    Dumbek ("medieval" clay goblet drum)
 
Pandeiro (Portugese Tambourine)
 
 

 
 

LIST OF SCENES

SETTING:

ACT ONE
Scene 1 Stage of the Ford Theatre, Baltimore  
Scene 2 The corridor, backstage

 

Scene 3 Dressing rooms of Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham  
Scene 4 Padua  
Scene 5 Street scene, Padua  
Scene 6 Backstage  
Scene 7 Dressing rooms of Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham  
Scene 8 The Church  

ACT II
Scene 1

The stage door alley

 
Scene 2 Before the curtain  
Scene 3 Petruchio's house  
Scene 4 The corridor, backstage  
Scene 5 Dressing rooms of Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham  
Scene 6 The corridor, backstage  
Scene 7 Before the safety curtain  
Scene 8 Baptista's Home  
 
 

 
 

LIST OF MUSICAL NUMBERS

ACT ONE
1
Another Op'nin' Another Show Hattie and The Company
2
Why Can't You Behave

Lois Lane / Bianca & Bill Calhoun / Lucentio

3
Wunderbar Fred Graham / Petruchio & Lilli Vanessi / Katharine
4
So in Love Lilli Vanessi / Katharine
5
We Open in Venice Fred Graham / Petruchio, Lilli Vanessi / Katharine, Lois Lane / Bianca & Bill Calhoun / Lucentio
6
Tom, Dick or Harry Lois Lane / Bianca, Bill Calhoun / Lucentio, Gremio (First Suitor) & Hortensio (Second Suitor)
7
I've Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua Fred Graham / Petruchio and The Men
8
I Hate Men Lilli Vanessi / Katharine
9
Were Thine That Special Face Fred Graham / Petruchio
10
Cantiamo D'Amore The Ensemble
11
Kiss Me, Kate Fred Graham / Petruchio, Lilli Vanessi / Katharine & The Ensemble

ACT TWO

12
Too Darn Hot Paul and The Ensemble
13
Where Is the Life That Late I Led? Fred Graham / Petruchio
14
Always True to You In My Fashion Lois Lane / Biancax
15
From This Moment On Harrison Howell & Lilli Vanessi / Katharine
16
Bianca Bill Calhoun / Lucentio & The Ensemble
17
So in Love (Reprise) Fred Graham / Petruchio
18
Brush Up Your Shakespeare First Man and Second Man
19
Pavane Lois Lane / Bianca, Bill Calhoun / Lucentio & The Ensemble
20

I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple

Lilli Vanessi / Katharine
21
Kiss Me, Kate (Reprise) The Company
 
 

 

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