The joys, madness, and the rewards of working in the theater, onstage and off, are celebrated in "Kiss Me, Kate," a heralded musical that can be rightly called a Broadway treasure. Taking its inspiration from Shakespeare, "Kiss Me, Kate" follows the antics of two feuding romantic couples during a touring production of "The Taming of the Shrew." Sparkling with 18 classic Cole Porter songs — including “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “Wunderbar,” “So in Love,” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” “Too Darn Hot,” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”—"Kiss Me, Kate" epitomizes the Broadway musical comedy at its irresistible best.
Staged by the Department of Drama (SU Drama) in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), "Kiss Me, Kate" performs October 2-10 in the Archbold Theater at the Syracuse Stage/Drama Theater Complex, 820 East Genesee Street. Tickets range $17-$19 and can be purchased at vpa.syr.edu/drama, by phone at 315-443-3275, or in person at the box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Set in Baltimore in the 1940s, "Kiss Me, Kate" follows two divorcees’ who struggle to part from their relationship drama offstage. As professional actors, the couple attempts to hide their issues from the main stage, only to get caught up in the mix of these problems. Tempers fly and petty arguments erupt, causing comical outcomes for everyone involved. This play within a play truly captures the hilarity that ensues when two egos fight for the same spotlight.
Cole Porter was a musical star of his time. When "Kiss Me, Kate" opened on Broadway in 1948, the production ran 1,077 performances and received five Tony Awards in 1949. The popularity of the songs in "Kiss Me, Kate" gained such a following that the show was later adapted for film in the 1950s. Fast forward to the year 2000, and "Kiss Me, Kate" still had not lost its charm, with a Broadway revival also claiming five Tony Awards.
A lyricist and composer best known for incorporating elements of jazz and swing, Porter’s work for Broadway includes "Paris" (1928), "The New Yorkers" (1930), "Gay Divorce" (1932), "Anything Goes" (1934), "You Never Know" (1938), "Panama Hattie" (1940), "Can-Can" (1946), and "Silk Stockings" (1954), among others. His song “True Love” from "High Society" won an Oscar nomination for Best Song in 1957 and “The Continental” from "Gay Divorce" won an Academy Award for Best Song in 1932. Notable jazz tunes by Porter include “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” from "Born to Dance" (1936, Oscar nomination for Best Song), “In the Still of the Night” (1937), and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” (1944).
Directing the SU Drama production of "Kiss Me, Kate" is David Lowenstein, an alumnus of SU Drama and professor of practice in the musical theater program. His professional SU Drama credits include direction for "Seussical!" and "Oklahoma," and choreography for "Lucky Stiff" and "I Love You Because." Before moving to Central New York, Lowenstein co-created and choreographed "Shout! The Mod Musical," which ran in London and Off-Broadway, and his choreography was featured in the Drama Desk-award winning Howard Crabtree’s "Whoop-Dee-Doo!," "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," "Anything Cole," and "Sing For Your Supper." He has taught at SUNY Cortland, CAP 21/NYU, and Le Moyne College.
For more information about "Kiss Me, Kate" and SU Drama’s 2015/16 Season, visit vpa.syr.edu/drama.