Kiss Me Kate

Musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, and book by Sam and Bella Spewack. This exuberant show-within-a-show throws together gun-toting gangsters, sparring actors and romantic entanglements against a backdrop of a musical production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew that includes such classic songs as 'Too Darn Hot'; 'Brush up your Shakespeare'; 'Another Op'nin, Another Show'; 'Why Can't You Behave'; 'Wunderbar'; and 'Always True To You In My Fashion'.

Premiere London West End Production 1951

1st London West End Revival 1970

2nd London West End Revival 1987

London Revival 1997

3rd London West End Revival 2001

4th London West End Revival 2012

5th London West End Revival 2018

Cole Porter's other London theatre shows include High Society and Anything Goes.


Original London West End Production 1951

Opened 8 March 1951, Closed 23 February 1952 at the London Coliseum

The original cast featured Bill Johnson as 'Fred Graham'/'Petruchio', Patricia Morison as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine', Walter Long as 'Bill Calhoun'/'Lucentio' and Julie Wilson as 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca' with Danny Green as 'First Gangster', Sid James as 'Second Gangster', Austin Trevor as 'Harrison Howell', Daniel Wherry as 'Henry Trevor'/'Baptista', Adelaide Hall as 'Hattie' and Archie Savage as 'Paul'.

Directed by Sam Spewack, based on the original by John C. Wilson, with choreography by Hanya Holm and designs by Lemuel Ayers.


1st London West End Revival 1970

Previewed 23 December 1970, Opened 24 December 1970, Closed 23 January 1971 at the London Coliseum
Returned 17 July 1971, Closed 4 September 1971 (in repertory) at the London Coliseum

Presented by Sadler's Wells Opera.

The December 1970 season cast featured Emile Belcourt as 'Frederick Graham'/'Petruchio', Ann Howard as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine', Teddy Green as 'Bill Calder'/'Lucentio', and Judith Bruce as 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca', with Francis Egerton as 'First Man', John Bluthal as 'Second Man', Robert Lloyd as 'Courtenay Howell', Eric Shilling as 'Harry Trevor'/'Baptista', Teresa Wellard as 'Hattie', Brian Casey as 'Paul', Ricky Price as 'Ralph', Raymond Scally as 'Taxi Driver', Joseph Riordan as 'Stage Doorman', Hugh Halliday as 'Gremio', and Graham James as 'Hortensio'.

The July 1971 season cast featured Emile Belcourt as 'Frederick Graham'/'Petruchio', Ann Hood as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine', Sandy Grant as 'Bill Calder'/'Lucentio', and Shirley Chapman as 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca', with Francis Egerton as 'First Man', Gregory Dempsey as 'Second Man', Denis Dowling as 'Courtenay Howell', Eric Shilling as 'Harry Trevor'/'Baptista', Teresa Wellard as 'Hattie', Brian Casey as 'Paul', Peter Garrett as 'Ralph', Raymond Scally as 'Taxi Driver', Joseph Riordan as 'Stage Doorman', Hugh Halliday as 'Gremio', and David Hitchin as 'Hortensio'.

Adapted and directed by Peter Coe, with choreography by Sheila O'Neill, designs by Michael Knight, and lighting by Charles Bristow.

The return 1971 season was directed by Colin Graham, 'under the supervision' of Sam Spewack, based on the original by Peter Coe, with choreography by Sheila O'Neill, additional choreography by Pauline Grant, designs by Michael Knight, and lighting by Charles Bristow.

Presented as a 'straight-run' over the Christmas / New Year holiday season in an adaptation by Peter Coe that moved the setting from 1948 Baltimore to 1970s London and changed some of the characters's names. Evening attendances for the Christmas Season averaged around 1,600 in the large 2,550 seater Coliseum Theatre, and the show was brought back to play in repertory over the summer in a 're-staged' and slightly re-cast production that was directed by Colin Graham 'under the supervision' of Sam Spewack. The 1970s London setting was kept, although a number of scenes and characterisations where changed slightly.


2nd London West End Revival 1987

Previewed 8 May 1987, Opened 19 May 1987, Closed 9 January 1988 at the Old Vic Theatre
Transferred 15 January 1988, Closed 13 August 1988 at the Savoy Theatre

Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The original cast featured Paul Jones as 'Fred Graham'/'Petruchio', Nichola McAuliffe as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine', Tim Flavin as 'Bill Calhoun'/'Lucentio', and Fiona Hendley as 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca', with Emil Wolk as 'Joe Ambrosio (First Gangster)', John Bardon as 'Max O'Hagan (Second Gangster)', Barry Linehan as 'Harrison Howell', Jeffery Dench as 'Henry Trevor'/'Baptista', Earlene Bentley as 'Hattie', Peter Alex Newton as 'Paul', Christopher Brown as 'Ralph Johnson Stage Manager', Edward Phillips as 'Willard Ward Stage Doorman', Peter Ledbury as 'Benjamin Stubbs'/'Hortentio', Cyril Nri as 'Chas Gilpin'/'Gremio', Barry Linehan as 'Harrison Howell', Jacgui Boatswain as 'Flossi Holliday', Nicholas Burge as 'Joe Roberts', Richard Calkin as 'Mike Fosse', Marisa Campbell as 'Vera Page', Aidan Cook as 'Ernie Fendemann', Karen Davies as 'Elaine Sznowski', Brenda Garratt-Glassman as 'Colette Fontaine', Richard Gough as 'Danny Lane', Megan Hughes as 'Judy Sheridan', Kim Ismay as 'Lucille Dupre', Michelle Knight as 'June O'Hara', Melanie Marshall as 'Irma Chil', Sian Reeves as 'Patty Lee', Richard Sampson as 'Gino Lorenz', Tricia Tomlinson as 'Babs Lamont', and Stephen Tye as 'Mark DeRein'.

The role of 'Fred Graham'/'Petruchio' was played by Paul Jones from Friday 8 May 1987 to Saturday 7 November 1987; and by James Smillie from Monday 9 November 1987 to Saturday 13 August 1988.

The role of 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine' was played by Nichola McAuliffe from Friday 8 May 1987 to Saturday 7 May 1988; and by Stephanie Lawrence from Monday 9 May 1988 to Saturday 13 August 1988.

The role of 'Bill Calhoun'/'Lucentio' was played by Tim Flavin for the entire run.

The role of 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca' was played by Fiona Hendley from Friday 8 May 1987 to Saturday 7 November 1987; and by Andree Bernard from Monday 9 November 1987 to Saturday 13 August 1988.

Directed by Adrian Noble, with choreography by Ron Field, sets by William Dudley, costumes by Liz da Costa, and lighting by Mark Henderson.


London Revival 1997

Previewed 22 July 1997, Opened 24 July 1997, Closed 1 September 1997 (in repertory) at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

The cast featured Andrew C Wadsworth as 'Fred Graham'/'Petruchio', Louise Gold as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine', Graeme Henderson as 'Bill Calhoun'/'Lucentio' and Issy Van Randwyck as 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca', with Gavin Muir as 'First Gangster', Rob Edwards as 'Second Gangster', Jonathan Elsom as 'Harrison Howell', John Griffiths as 'Harry Trevor'/'Baptista', Debby Bishop as 'Hattie', Gary Bryden as 'Paul', Paul Bentley as 'Gremio', Jonathan Elsom as 'Cab Driver', Oliver Jackson as 'Haberdasher', Paul Thornley as 'Ralph'/'Hortentio', Tony Whittle as 'Stage Doorman', Rebecca Hartley, Simon Penman, Ian Sanders, Adam Sims, Alexandra Sumner, and Lucy Quick.

Directed by Ian Talbot, with choreography by Lisa Kent, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor, and sound by Simon Whitehorn.


3rd London West End Revival 2001

Previewed 16 October 2001, Opened 30 October 2001, Closed 24 August 2002 at the Victoria Palace Theatre

A major revival of the classic Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate in London. This is the West End transfer of the multi-award winning 2000 Broadway revival which won five Tony Awards including for 'Best Revival of a Musical', 'Best Orchestrations', 'Best Costume Design' and 'Best Director of a Musical'.

The original cast featured Brent Barrett as 'Fred Graham'/'Petruchio', Marin Mazzie as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine' (up to Saturday 1 June 2002), Michael Berresse as 'Bill Calhoun'/'Lucentio', and Nancy Anderson 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca', with Teddy Kempner as 'First Gangster', Jack Chissick as 'Second Gangster', Nicolas Colicos as 'Harrison Howell', Colin Farrell as 'Henry Trevor'/'Baptista', Kaye E Brown as 'Hattie', Nolan Frederick as 'Paul', Barry McNeil as 'Hortensio', Richard Sidaway as 'Haberdasher', Duncan Smith as 'Pops', Andrew Spillett as 'Cab Driver'/'Nathaniel', Christopher Stewart as 'Gregory', Phillip Sutton as 'Philip, Alan Vicary as 'Ralph', Nick Winston as 'Gremio', Vikki Coote, Catherine Digges, Rebecca Giacopazzi, Lizzie Leigh, Jo Napthine, Sarah Soetaert, and Annette Yeo.

The role of 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine' was played by Marin Mazzie from Tuesday 16 October 2001 to Saturday 1 June 2002; by Carolee Carmello from Monday 3 to Saturday 29 June 2002; and by Rachel York from Monday 1 July to Saturday 24 August 2002.

Brent Barrett, Michael Berresse, and Nancy Anderson remained in the cast for the entire run.

Directed by Michael Blakemore with choreography by Kathleen Marshall, sets by Robin Wagner, costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski and sound by Tony Meola.

"The director, Michael Blakemore, wisely sets it in its 1948 period. In fact, the whole show is a delicious celebration of the American theatre of those days, with its tantrumy stars, wobbly, painted backcloths and truly great songs roughly every 10 minutes - from the sassy 'Too Darn Hot' and the gorgeous 'So In Love' to the sublimely silly 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare'. The show's joke is that the two leads give each other hell off-stage and on-stage in a ghastly musical version of Taming of the Shrew. The two hams in this, Miss Lilli Vanessi and Mr Fred Graham - played in superb comic tandem by Marin Mazzie and Brent Barrett - are brilliantly physical and funny and both sing like larks... Cooking up a storm when it needs to, this loving version hits notes of genuine tenderness and charm. The whole thing is a tremendous treat from a golden era." The Daily Express

"Michael Blakemore's revival of Kiss Me, Kate, which opened on Broadway two years ago, is now installed at the Victoria Palace. It offers the most entertaining evening in town... The four principals at the Victoria Palace all hail from the States, three of them from the New York production. They bring with them fine voices, athletic dancing skills, spot-on humour and pounding American energy. Brent Barrett is a splendidly swaggering Petruchio and a cheerfully egotistical Fred (the star of the show). Marin Mazzie spits fire as Kate and as Lilli (his co-star and ex-wife) - and she has an exceptionally large mouth from which to spit it... Nancy Anderson and Michael Berresse are equally good as Bianca and Lucentio and their "real life" equivalents Lois and Bill... Kathleen Marshall's choreography packs an erotic punch throughout, in comic numbers such as a glorious grape-treading sequence no less than in the torrid mini-ballet Too Darn Hot." The Sunday Telegraph

"A superb revival of one of the masterpieces of American musical theatre: inventive, vigorous, warm-hearted and gloriously sophisticated. Students of star quality must see this show: they will not be disappointed. It is full of irresistibly glamorous performances - like diamonds, being both hard and brilliant. The four leads are from the American cast. Marin Mazzie is Lilli/Katharine: a voluptuous blonde with a delicate nose, devastating cheekbones and a voice like honey. Brent Barrett is Fred Graham/Petruchio: a magnificent swaggerer who performs the difficult feat of playing somebody relentlessly cocksure and extremely pleased with himself without himself looking like either. Lois/Bianca (Nancy Anderson) is a true soubrette-diva... Michael Berresse is Bill/Lucentio: an attractive, virile actor and a prodigiously agile and athletic dancer-performer... Kathleen Marshall has come up with some of the sexiest choreography in years." The Sunday Times

Kiss Me Kate in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre previewed from 16 October 2001, opened on 30 October 2001 and closed on 24 August 2002.


4th London West End Revival 2012

Previewed 20 November 2012, Opened 27 November 2012, Closed 2 March 2013 at the Old Vic Theatre

The cast featured Alex Bourne as 'Fred Graham'/'Petruchio', Hannah Waddingham as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine', Adam Garcia as 'Bill Calhoun'/'Lucentio', and Holly Dale Spencer as 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca', with David Burt as 'First Gangster', Clive Rowe as 'Second Gangster', Mark Heenhan as 'Harrison Howell', Paul Grunert as 'Harry Trevor'/'Baptista', Wendy Mae Brown as 'Hattie' Jason Pennycooke as 'Paul', Michelle Bishop as 'Wardrobe Lady', Kevin Brewis as 'Hortensio', Christopher Dickins as 'Pops', Shaun Henson as 'Ralph', Samuel Holmes as 'Gremio', Richard Jones as 'Philip', Warren Sollars as 'Gregory', Tim Walton as 'Nathaniel', Carolyn Maitland, Jo Morris, Tanya Robb, Flik Swan, and Kate Tydman.

Directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography by Stephen Mear, designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Paul Groothuis.

Alex Bourne's West End stage credits include the role of 'Danny Zuko' in the Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey musical Grease at the Dominion Theatre in 1998; and the title role of 'Buddy Holly' in Alan Janes' Buddy the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1994.

Hannah Waddingham's London stage credits include the roles of 'The Witch' in Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel's revival of the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical Into The Woods at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2010; 'Desiree Armfeldt' in Trevor Nunn's revival of the Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2008, and transfer to the West End's Garrick Theatre in 2009; 'Satan' in Ben Elton's Rod Stewart musical Tonight's The Night at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2003; 'Christine' in Robert Carsen's production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton musical The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge Theatre in 2000; and 'Suzanne Valadon' in Rob Bettinson's production of the Charles Aznavour and Shaun McKenna musical Lautrec at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2000.

Adam Garcia's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Chip' in Jude Kelly's revival of the Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green musical On the Town at the London Coliseum in 2005; and 'Tony Manero' in the original cast of Arlene Philips' production of the Bee Gee's Saturday Night Fever at the London Palladium in 1998.

This production was originally staged at the Chichester Festival Theatre in West Sussex from 18 June to 1 September 2012.

"The world-weary standard Another Op'nin', Another Show kicks off Kiss Me, Kate at the Old Vic, but there is nothing routine about Sir Trevor Nunn's production... Quality control has, alas, been an issue with Sir Trevor's work in recent years - one recalls with a shudder his production of Gone with the Wind - but he has paid so much attention here to getting the look and feel of the show-within-a-show right that I soon started to feel I was getting two five-star epics for the price of one... Sam and Bella Spewack's yarn was written in the Forties and it is not in the least bit politically correct but the crackling Jewish humour still fills up the spaces between Cole Porter's big numbers with chutzpah. And the big numbers themselves are wunderbar... This is a smash hit." The Sunday Telegraph

"Kiss Me, Kate is a perfect fit for director Trevor Nunn, the RSC and big musicals veteran. His stagecraft skills are in full evidence here and, with Stephen Mear choreographing the big dance numbers, the razzle dazzle is turned up to 11, particularly in Too Darn Hot. There's no attempt to mine deeper resonance but Nunn negotiates the tricky merging of fictions with aplomb and a giant wink: when the cast are performing the play within the play, he lets a joyous confusion reign over whether they're messing up the parts because of all the off-stage distractions or because they're playing bad actors." The London Metro

"Chichester Festival Theatre has a great reputation for musicals: Singin' In The Rain and Sweeney Todd, two of the hottest shows, started off there. And with Sir Trevor Nunn, who has directed more Shakespeare and more musicals than most, at the helm of this revival, it should have been Wunderbar (to borrow the title of one terrific number). Sad to say, it's terribly disappointing. A heavy-handed Nunn has lavished it with gorgeousness and unnecessary detail and slowed it down to a lumbering pace, wholly smothering its light-as-a-feather exuberance... There's little spark between Hannah Waddingham's overpowering Lilli Vanessi, the Hollywood star playing Kate, and Alex Bourne's Fred, a charmless Petruchio - even though Fred is Lilli's ex-husband, the show's director and the only man for whom she supposedly still holds a torch... A show spirited enough to make a joke of Shakespeare's most unpleasant play, as well as rhyme puberty with Schuberty, sassy with Lassie and heinous with Coriolanus can't wholly fail. But this one feels long and leaden." The Mail on Sunday (Chichester Festival Theatre)

"Blurring the boundaries between acting and reality, it tells the story of divorced actors Lilli Vanessi (Hannah Waddingham) and Fred Graham (Alex Bourne) cast as Katharine and Petruchio in a song and dance production of The Taming Of The Shrew... Blazing with personality the cast - ensemble included - is stunning. Hannah Waddingham looks like Kathleen Turner and sings like a soprano Ethel Merman, though she might consider more light and shade and less gurning in I Hate Men; Alex Bourne has virility and emotional depth while former Tap Dog Adam Garcia makes the most of slick jazz tap number Bianca. David Burt and Clive Rowe's gangster double act is hilarious until Brush Up Your Shakespeare, when their exaggerated speech patterns bury the lyrics in a concrete overcoat. Small problems, easily fixed. Nunn has largely got this one right. It's a riot. And the anonymous band is smoking hot. Let's see 'em at the curtain." The Daily Express (Chichester Festival Theatre)

"Unlike some musicals, Kiss Me, Kate is satisfyingly clever as well as properly funny, with some of Cole Porter's best, including Brush up Your Shakespeare, I Hate Men, Always True to You in My Fashion and Too Darn Hot... The choreography by Stephen Mear is an absolute joy, as good as anything you'll see in London's West End, and the singing is crisply clear... Trevor Nunn's shows have not always been entirely successful recently, but this is a great return to form, loading on numerous neat touches and visual gags... There's a constant awareness that while all good comedies should end with peace and love, the lovers' furious quarrels meantime are fabulously entertaining, both for themselves and for onlookers. And the "comedy" of the domestic violence is lightly dealt with: Kate gets away with a bit of a spanking, and it's impossible to take the woman-on-man violence here seriously." The Sunday Times (Chichester Festival Theatre)

Kiss Me, Kate in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 20 November 2012, opened on 27 November 2012 and closed on 2 March 2013.


London Revival 2018

Opened 20 June 2018, Closed 30 June 2018 at the London Coliseum

Opera North present their acclaimed 2015 revival of the classic Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate in London for a strictly limited season of just 12 performances in June 2018 - presented as part of a UK tour

The cast featured Quirijn de Lang as 'Fred Graham'/'Petruchio', Stephanie Corley as 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Kate', Alan Burkitt as 'Bill Calhoun'/'Lucentio', and Zoe Rainey as 'Lois Lane'/'Bianca', with Joseph Shovelton as 'Mobster', John Savournin as 'Mobster', Malcolm Ridley as 'Harrison Howell', James Hayes as 'Harry Trevor'/'Baptista', Aiesha Pease as 'Hattie', Stephane Anelli as 'Paul', Piers Bate as 'Gremio', Claire Pascoe as 'Ralph', Jack Wilcox as 'Hortensio', Michelle Andrews, Harrison Clark, Rachael Crocker, Freya Field, Kate Ivory Jordan, Jordan Livesey, Ben Oliver, and Ross Russell, with the Opera North Orchestra and Chorus.

Directed by Jo Davies, restaged by Ed Goggin, with choreography by Will Tuckett, restaged by David James Hulston, designs by Colin Richmond and lighting by Ben Cracknell.

When this production opened at the London Coliseum in June 2018, Paul Taylor in the i newspaper hailed "this magnificent Opera North revival... It's a joy to hear Opera North's superlative orchestra, under the baton of James Holmes... in Jo Davies's classy, deft production... A period piece with a subversive spirit, splendidly reanimated here." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted how, "lavish to the point of indulgence, it's a romantic tribute to the richness of Porter's score. Musically, it's a treat... Quirijn de Lang and Stephanie Corley are charismatic as Fred and Lilli." Ann Treneman in the Times thought that "the London Coliseum, with its sweeping stage, is the perfect setting for this comedy of terrors, which is not so much a play within a play as a musical within an operatically inclined musical... Jo Davies directs a production that doesn't hurry and delivers when it matters... Alan Burkitt, as Bill, is a fluid, tap-dancing triumph." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times described "Jo Davies's staging and Will Tuckett's choreography keep matters fizzing... but it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said it was "an opulently musical evening... marred only by lifeless spoken passages and a sluggish start," but Cole Porter's "brilliantly inventive lyrics rescue the enterprise, as does the singing. Wunderbar it is, indeed, by the end."

"Jo Davies's production is smartly paced and gimmick-free," highlighted Rupert Christiansen in the Daily Telegraph when this production was originally seen in 2015, adding that "charged up with Will Tuckett's sizzling choreography and performed by an ensemble firing on all cylinders, the big showpiece parades of Another Opening, Another Show and Too Darn Hot duly explode with irresistible energy." Alfred Hickling in the Guardian described how "Jo Davies's great achievement is to amalgamate a group of classically trained singers and musical theatre specialists into a unit so cohesive you can no longer see the joins... With a full complement of saxophones and additional brass, the playing of the Opera North orchestra is so darn hot it's practically a fire-risk." Richard Morrison in the Times explained that "the sumptuous, saxophone-enriched orchestration is one of this production's plus points. Another is Will Tuckett's mercurial, funny choreography. Unfortunately the classic problems associated with opera companies performing musicals are also present here. Jo Davies's backstage/frontstage production is slick enough, but the delivery of repartee that should be rattled out with machinegun velocity often isn't... an enjoyable but rarely electrifying show."

Kiss Me Kate in London at the Coliseum opened on 20 June 2018 and closed on 30 June 2018