Kiss Me, Kate (Original 1948)


Combine Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew with Porter’s music and lyrics to get KISS ME, KATE — an instant success with every cast and audience. This is a play-within-a-play where each cast member’s onstage life is complicated by what is happening offstage. Musical numbers include “So In Love,” “Wunderbar,” “Tom, Dick or Harry,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” “I Hate Men,” “Always True to You (In My Fashion)” and “Another Op’nin, Another Show.” KISS ME, KATE is fun, melodious and sophisticated.

*Music Samples provided courtesy of Jay Records and Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Cast List
  • Brief History
  • Upcoming
  • “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 of the play 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 members’ onstage performance is complicated by what is happening in his offstage 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 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”).

    The show begins (“We Open in Venice”). Apparently, Lucentio (Bill) may not marry his love Bianca (Lois), until Bianca’s older sister Katharine (Lilli) the shrew is married off. Till then, Bianca enjoys flirting with her gentlemen callers (“Tom, Dick or Harry”). Fortunately for Bianca and Lucentio, Petruchio (Fred) comes to town looking for a rich wife (“I’ve Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua”), and he is not scared off by Katharine. Katharine makes her feelings clear: “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 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”).

    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 (“Where Is the Life That Late I Led?”). Lois tells Bill she’s “Always True to You (In My Fashion)” and Bill replies by singing “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 (“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.

    Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
    Book by Sam and Bella Spewack

    Authors’ billing shall appear in a size not less than that afforded any other element of the production. All the Authors shall be billed in the same size of type, and no Author shall receive billing credit unless all the Authors are afforded billing credit. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.

    The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:

    is presented by arrangement with
    560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022

  • Full Instrumentation

    2 Violin I
    1 Violin II
    1 Viola
    1 Cello
    1 Bass

    1 Reed I: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Flute II
    1 Reed II: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Bass Clarinet
    1 Reed III: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Oboe & English Horn
    1 Reed IV: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Flute I & Piccolo
    1 Reed V: Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone & Bassoon

    1 Horn
    2 Trumpet I & II
    1 Trumpet III
    1 Trombone

    1 Percussion:

    Timpani (2 Drums)
    Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
    Bass Drum
    Tom Tom
    Cymbals (Suspended & Hi-Hat)
    Wood Block
    Vibraphone (optional)

    1 Harp
    1 Piano-Celeste
    1 Guitar – Mandolin (doubles Violin)

    Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.

  • 1       Piano Conductor’s Score
    1       Prompt Book for Director
    24     Prompt Books for Cast
    30     Chorus-Vocal Parts

    Original Cast CD, if available, is sent with perusal material.

    Optional Additional Materials

    1       Stage Manager’s Guide

  • (In Order of Appearance)

    Fred Graham – Actor, Producer, Writer
    Harry Trevor
    Lois Lane
    Ralph (Stage Manager)
    Lilli Vanessi
    Stage Doorman
    Bill Calhoun
    First Man
    Second Man
    Harrison Howell
    Specialty Dancers

    “Taming Of The Shrew” Players

    Bianca (Lois Lane)
    Baptista (Harry Trevor)
    Gremio (First Suitor)
    Hortensio (Second Suitor)
    Lucentio (Bill Calhoun)
    Katharine (Lilli Vanessi)
    Petruchio (Fred Graham)

    Singing Ensemble
    Dancing Ensemble

    The original Broadway production had a cast of 40, including chorus.

  • KISS ME, KATE played for 1,077 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. The original cast album issued in 1948 by Columbia Records had the distinction of being the very first Broadway cast recording to be issued on LP. KISS ME, KATE was revived in 1999 at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway, where it played for 881 performances starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie, and at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London, where it played for about 300 performances starring Brent Barrett and Marin Mazzie.

    Awards (1949)

    5 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Produced Show, Best Script, Best Score and Best Costumes.

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

    Search for performances near you
    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    James Monroe High School NORTH HILLS, CA 03/30/2017 03/31/2017
    McNeese University LAKE CHARLES, LA 04/05/2017 04/09/2017
    H S T Cultural Arts ROCKVILLE, MD 04/28/2017 04/29/2017
    Lourdes High School ROCHESTER, MN 05/11/2017 05/14/2017
    Jewish Community Center LOUISVILLE, KY 07/13/2017 08/06/2017
    City of Tarpon Springs Perf. Arts Ctr. TARPON SPRINGS, FL 07/14/2017 07/23/2017