This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
A Film by Michael Kantor


Kiss Me, Kate

Premier: December 30, 1948 Theater: New Century Theater Music by: Cole Porter Lyrics by: Cole Porter Book by: Bella and Samuel Spewack Directed by: John C. Wilson Choreography by: Hanya Holm Produced by: Saint Subber and Lemuel Ayers

    "Another Op'nin', Another Show" "Why Can't You Behave?" "Wunderbar" "So in Love" "We Open in Venice" "I've Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua" "I Hate Men" "Too Darn Hot" "Brush Up Your Shakespeare"
“Kiss Me, Kate” is a loosely plotted scenario about the out-of-town tryout of a musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” directed by and starring an Orson Wellesian ham named Fred Graham alongside his ex-wife Lili Vanessi. Cole Porter confined himself to the sweeping emotions of the leading characters. Banking on the convention of two lovers “who can’t live with each other and can’t live without each other,” Porter brilliantly captured the self-delusion and overwrought masochism of romantic egotism. Porter’s renderings of the outsized, melodramatic personalities of Fred and Lili were the most truthful things he ever wrote (they were also perfectly embodied by Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison). Thrown together in the out-of-town tryout, Fred and Lili discover the love that binds their considerable egos together, even though Lili is engaged to marry a powerful senator and Fred is involved in a dalliance with a sexy young thing in the show. They realize, much like Kate and Petruchio in the original play, that they are bound to each other.

The show opened in Philadelphia in early December 1948 and worked like a charm from that moment on. It moved practically intact to the New Century Theater on Broadway, premiering only two days before the beginning of 1949. “Kiss Me, Kate” gave Porter the greatest hit of his career; it ran for 1,077 performances and won five Tony Awards®, including Best Musical.