New in 2019 A revival of Cole Porter's Tony-winning musical about two divorced and egocentric performers who find themselves starring opposite each other in a musical version of "Taming of the Shrew."
From the producers: In Cole Porter’s sparkling 1948 musical, the warring lovers of "The Taming of the Shrew" are causing trouble both onstage and off. While putting on a musical version of Shakespeare’s play, exes Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi can’t decide if they’re enraged, enamored or enormously confused whenever they cross paths out of character. Throw in some mistaken identity, a pair of surprisingly eloquent gangsters and a whole lot of romantic entanglements, and what you get is "Kiss Me, Kate" - a dazzling classic that earned the first-ever Tony Award for Best Musical.
"Kiss Me, Kate" was inspired by the on-stage/off-stage battling of husband-and-wife actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne during their 1935 production of "Shrew." The musical was Cole Porter's response to Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" and other integrated musicals; it was the first show he wrote in which the music and lyrics were firmly connected to the script, and it proved to be his biggest hit and the only one of his shows to run for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway. In 1949, it won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical. In 2015. the 1949 original cast recording was inducted into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry for the album's "cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation's audio legacy."
Tony nominee Scott Ellis ("She Loves Me," "Curtains") directs a cast led by Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara. O’Hara was nominated for five Tony Awards between 2005 and 2014 before winning in 2015 for her performance as Anna Leonowens in the Lincoln Center revival of "The King and I." Her Broadway credits also include "South Pacific," "The Light in the Piazza," "The Bridges of Madison County," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," and "The Pajama Game." She reprises her "Kate" performance from Roundabout’s 2016 benefit concert, also directed by Ellis.
What's the Roundabout? One of the great nonprofit dreadnoughts of the New York theater scene, the Roundabout has three Broadway venues and an Off-Broadway stage in midtown. Prominent artists are usually engaged, significant work is usually done, and even at the smallest of the theaters, the work has the uniform quality that one would expect from such a large and prominent shop. More here.
Even in an imperfectly cast revival like the new Roundabout production, it's virtually impossible not to surrender to its boisterous charms. Minor rewrites... realign the balance and put Fred and Lilli on more equal footing. If the changes dampen some of the show's comedic vitality in order to make it palatable to contemporary sensibilities, so be it. There are corresponding losses and gains, too. But this is an immensely pleasurable show even in a production that occasionally lacks spark.
Mostly terrific...Kelli O'Hara and Will Chase are so evenly matched - in performance, talent and temperament - that it's hard to imagine a more finely balanced battle de deux. This production takes a bit more time than perhaps it should building steam (though that'll soon come, and then some). Despite some script doctoring...this "Kiss Me, Kate" feels as modern as anything from '48 can. The design, like much else in this "Kate," keeps perfectly true to the fashions of Cole Porter having a blast with William Shakespeare.