Great Performances: Season 31, Episode 9

Kiss Me Kate (26 Feb. 2003)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | Music
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A live performance of the 1999 revival, taped in London in the theatre in which it was staged, and in front of a live audience.

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Title: Kiss Me Kate (26 Feb 2003)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Lilli Vanessi / Katherine
Nancy Kathryn Anderson ...
Lois Lane / Bianca (as Nancy Anderson)
...
Nicholas Colicos ...
Harrison Howell (as Nicolas Colicos)
Teddy Kempner ...
First Man
Jack Chissick ...
Second Man
Kaye Brown ...
Hattie (as Kaye E. Brown)
Nolan Frederick ...
Paul
Colin Farrell ...
Nick Winston ...
Barry McNeill ...
Alan Vicary ...
Ralph the Stage Manager
Andrew Spillett ...
Cab Driver / Nathaniel
Duncan Smith ...
Pops
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A live performance of the 1999 revival, taped in London in the theatre in which it was staged, and in front of a live audience.

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26 February 2003 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "Kiss Me Kate" opened at the New Century Theater on December 30, 1948, ran for 1077 performances and won the 1954 Tony Awards for the Best Musical, Book and Score. See more »

Quotes

Fred Graham 'Petruchio': The studio has fired you. You have the worst temper in show biz. You bit King Kong and gave him rabies!
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Connections

Version of The Taming of the Shrew (1911) See more »

Soundtracks

Where Is the Life That Late I Led?
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Sung by Brent Barrett
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User Reviews

 
Everything that the 1953 M-G-M film should have been
28 February 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

At last, somebody has had the good sense to present an excellent, uncut, uncensored "Kiss Me Kate" on television.

Those who are familiar with the classic musical only through the wildly overpraised 1953 film can now see for themselves how much better the show is in its original form. This is the London production of the recent Broadway revival, all two-and-a-half hours of it. The lyrics have been left as Cole Porter wrote them, all the songs are retained, and performed at their full-length, so that we can bask in their gentle naughtiness.

Everything about this production is as good as it could possibly be. While Brent Barrett as Fred Graham/Petruchio does not have the huge baritone voice that Howard Keel has, his voice is certainly quite excellent, and he sings his Act II reprise of "So in Love" with enormous sentiment. His Lilli Vanessi/Katherine is Rachel York, who is not only infinitely sexier than Kathryn Grayson was in 1953, but outacts and outsings Grayson all the way. (Barrett himself also gives a fine acting performance as Fred, investing the character with much more hilarious sneakiness than Keel did in the film version. Their scenes together crackle with a depth and electricity I have never seen in this musical, and their nuances of expression when they recall their happier wedded days bring a very welcome touch to the story.)

The character of nightclub singer Lois Lane--no, not the "Superman" character---has been made in this production into a real floozy, complete with an annoying speaking voice, unlike the ladylike but scatterbrained character than Ann Miller played in the film, and Nancy Anderson is excellent in the role. It makes her "Taming of the Shrew" transformation into the demure Bianca that much more incongruous. Michael Berresse as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio is miles ahead of Tommy Rall's grating, cutesy performance in the M-G-M film. He is very appealing in the role, a fine singer, and an excellent dancer.

The gangsters are every bit as funny as in any other production of this musical, and we finally get to hear the entire "Brush Up Your Shakespeare", with its lyrics getting more and more suggestive with each verse.

"From This Moment On" is sung in this version not by Bianca's suitors, but by Lilli and her new fiancée, here refashioned into a pompous General Douglas MacArthur look-alike with Presidential aspirations, rather than a Texas oil tycoon.

The choreography is brilliant, with a truly showstopping "Too Darn Hot", performed, as it should be, by the black characters in the show. The direction, by veteran Michael Blakemore, is completely assured, and if this production of "Kate" seems slow to some people, perhaps it's because they are used to the 113 minute film rather than this 150 minute staging. (More of Shakespeare's text for "The Taming of the Shrew" is featured in the stage version.)

This "Kiss Me Kate" is deserving of all the acclaim it has gotten, and is one of the finest musical productions PBS has ever broadcast.


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