Kiss Me, Kate

This play calls out spouses’ most shocking behavior, and it ranges from “oh, please.” to “WTF!?”

By Andrew Andrews

Jonah Hale, Michael Axtell, Meredith Lustig and Jordan Bunshaft in Mac-Haydn’s production of Cole Porter, Bella and Samuel Spewack’s Kiss Me, Kate, directed by Erin Spears with choreography by Bryan Knowlton. Original photos by Ann Kielbasa.

Actor Fred Graham is producing and starring in a new musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

For God-knows-what-reason, Graham has hired his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi to play the Shrew opposite him, and the two are as much at odds backstage as their characters are on the set. Vanessi even threatens to abandon the show, which would leave Graham without a leading lady.

Supporting actor Bill Calhoun has a gambling problem, and forges a $10,000 IOU to a mob boss using Graham’s name—because apparently it was easy to do that back in 1948!

When two goons appear in Graham’s dressing room to collect the debt, Graham pretends the note is legitimate, claiming that he won’t be able to pay it off unless the gangsters force Vanessi to stick to the performance schedule, so he can earn the money at the box office.

Not unlike their recent production of A Chorus Line (or, for that matter, last year’s run of Laughing Stock at The CENTER for Performing Arts), this musical dramatizes the world behind-the-scenes of live theatre, exposing the ego clashes and personal problems that create as much drama off-stage as the audience beholds on the set.

Inspired by the animosity between real-life husband-and-wife actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Kiss Me, Kate was the first show for which Cole Porter wrote music and lyrics specific to a script.

Zoe Schneider-Smith, Emily Allen, Anthony Velez, Nina Laing, Trevor Squiers, Ricky Dobbs, Holly Lauren Dayton, Anna Langlois, Jared Martin, Sarah Chiu, Jessie J. Potter, Patrick MacLennan, Troy Wheeler, Harrison Asher Smith, Bella DePaola, Cody Edwards and Lucy Rhoades. George Phelps, Brian Wagner and Kyle Marra (not shown) complete the cast.

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