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Kiss Me Kate

(1953 c 109')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Based on the Cole Porter musical play, a divorced couple are reunited to play in The Taming of the Shrew.

         In his apartment Fred Graham (Howard Keel) assures Cole Porter (Ron Randell) that he will persuade his wife Lilli to play the part of Katharina in a version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) arrives. As Cole plays piano, Fred and Lilli sing “So in Love.” Lois Lane (Ann Miller) arrives in a sexy costume and wants to play Bianca. A six-man orchestra comes in, and Lois sings “It’s Too Darn Hot” and tap dances. Cole says the number is out of the show, and Lois blames Lilli, who says she will not do it because she is going on her honeymoon. When Lilli hears them give her part to Lois, she comes back.

         In the theater Fred directs the rehearsal. Lois pays the cab bill for Bill Calhoun (Tommy Rall), who is jealous of Fred. On the roof Lois sings to Bill “Why Can’t You Behave?”, and they dance. In her dressingroom Lilli calls Fred a louse. They have been divorced one year and recall their past. They sing “Wunderbar” and then kiss. She asks what happened to them. In his dressingroom Fred meets Slug (James Whitmore) and Lippy (Kennan Wynn), who came to collect his debt. Lilli gets flowers from Fred and sings “So in Love.” Fred learns of the mistake and tries to keep her from reading the card.

         On stage the play begins with “We Open in Venice.” Bianca has three suitors; but she can’t marry until her older sister Katharina is wed. Lucentio (Bill), Gremio (Bobby Van), and Hortensio (Bob Fosse) sing “Marry me” (“Tom, Dick or Harry”) to Bianca. Petruchio (Fred) sings “I’ve Come to Wife it Wealthily in Padua” and decides to woo Katharina, who sings “I Hate Men.” Petruchio praised her and asks her father what dowry he will have. Petruchio sings “Were Thine That Special Face.” He woos Katharina, and she fights back. He sets the wedding day and spanks her at the end of the act.

         Fred and Lilli quarrel. Lilli tells Fred she will walk out. Bill tells Fred that he signed his name to an IOU. Fred takes Lilli’s dinner and gives it to Lippy and Slug. Fred says he needs money and that Lilly is leaving. Lois comes in to apologize for Bill, and Fred kisses her to shut her mouth. Fred has Lippy and Slug persuade Lilly to stay. Lippy shows his gun.

         In the second act Petruchio takes his bride home. Lippy and Slug go with them. Petruchio does not let Katharina eat or sleep. She locks him out of her room, and he sings “Where Is the Life That Late I Led?”

         Backstage Tex Callaway (Willard Parker) has brought an ambulance for Lilli. She says Lippy and Slug are gangsters and won’t let her leave. Petruchio visualizes Lilli on a cattle ranch. Bianca is glad to see Tex again, and Bill gets jealous. Lois sings “Always True to You, Darling, in My Fashion.” Lippy calls Mr. Hogan and hears gunfire. He tells Fred his IOU is canceled. Lilli says goodbye to Fred, who admits his shortcoming. She leaves in a car. Lippy and Slug try to cheer up Fred by singing ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”

         In the third act Lucentio sings “Bianca,” and they dance. Katharina comes to Petruchio, and he asks her to tell women their duty. He and the company sing “Kiss Me Kate.”

         This musical comedy entertains with witty lyrics and fine dancing. The story is updated to a Broadway couple who have divorced but want to come back together again. Although they like each other, somehow they usually wind up quarreling. As opposed to the Shakespearean version he finally admits that he was not equal to her. The irresponsible Bill does not seem worthy of Lois either. Thus relations have changed dramatically since the days of patriarchal domination.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

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