The Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate ends its acclaimed two-year run after more than 850 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre Dec. 30.
Kate's current cast — Carolee Carmello, Janine LaManna, Burke Moses, Kevin Neil McCready — ends a run that began with Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell in 1999. Mazzie is currently starring in the London run of the show, with Brent Barrett as her leading man. On Broadway, the show will have played 28 previews and 885 regular performances by Dec. 30.
The Martin Beck's next tenant is the new musical, Sweet Smell of Success, beginning previews Feb. 26, 2002, and opening March 14.
Kiss Me, Kate opened Nov. 18, 1999 and went on to win Tony Awards for Best Revival, as well as for Best Actor (Brian Stokes Mitchell). Mitchell and Marin Mazzie, vets of Ragtime, led the original cast when the tuner began previews Oct. 25, 1999. They, and now Moses and Carmello, play Fred and Lili, feuding spouses who perform — and spar — in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. The classic 1948 score by Porter includes such gems as "So in Love," "Too Darn Hot," "Another Openin', Another Show," "Wunderbar," "Always True to You in My Fashion," "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" and "Why Can't You Behave?" "From This Moment on" has been interpolated into the revival.
Actress La Manna came to Kate after playing the quirky girl-bird Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical. Wide-eyed LaManna, who plays Lois Lane, gets to sing some of Cole Porter's choicest numbers, including "Always True to You (in My Fashion)" and "Why Can't You Behave?," trilling and dancing in the dual roles of Lois Lane and Bianca. JoAnn M. Hunter exited the role June 17, 2001. Amy Spanger, who created the part in this revival, later appeared in Off-Broadway's tick, tick...BOOM! LaManna, who earned a Drama Desk nomination for Seussical and appeared in Broadway's Ragtime and Swing!, plus the first national tours of Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman, vamps opposite Kevin Neil McCready (originally Michael Berresse) in Kate. Off-Broadway, La Manna was seen in Theda Bara and the Frontier Rabbi, What's a Nice Country... and Chess.
Roger Berlind and Roger Horchow are producing Kiss Me, Kate, which hadn't enjoyed a Broadway production since its original staging. The musical has been slightly revised for this production. The character of Harrison Howell, fashioned after political consultant Bernard Baruch, has been reconceived as a military officer, Gen. Harrison Howell. He gets to sing an interpolated song, "From This Moment On," with Lili. The uncredited book doctor is said to be playwright John Guare.
Michael Blakemore (Copenhagen, City of Angels, The Life) directs. He also directed Noises Off, Joe Egg and Lettice & Lovage for Broadway and Death Defying Acts Off. Choreographer Kathleen Marshall is known as artistic director of the popular Encores! musical theatre concert series. In February 1999, she staged Rodgers and Hart's Babes in Arms for Encores! On Broadway, Marshall choreographed 1776 and Swinging on a Star.
Kate's designers are Robin Wagner (sets), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting) and Tony Meola (sound).
Kiss Me, Kate was Porter's greatest triumph and his most fully integrated book musical, coming late in his career after hits in the 1920s and 1930s with Paris, Fifty Million Frenchmen, Jubilee and Anything Goes.
The musical tells of the tempestuous relationship between estranged Fred and Lili, touring in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew (starring and directed by Fred).
Several years ago, John McGlinn conducted a studio cast and recorded the entire score — including such cut material as "What Does Your Servant Dream About?," "It Was Great Fun the First Time," "I'm Afraid, Sweetheart, I Love You," "We Shall Never Be Younger" (which has found life in recordings, in cabarets and in the British-created revue, Cole), "If Ever Married I'm" and "A Woman's Career" — for a two-disc release on the EMI/Angel label.
Outside New York, the Kiss Me Kate national tour, with Rex Smith and Rachel York as the egotistical, feuding leads, opened its lengthy Los Angeles stay Aug. 24, 2001 at the Shubert Theatre. Blakemore and Marshall recreated their direction and choreography, respectively, for the road. Berlind and Horchow are producing, as they did on Broadway.
The Martin Beck is at 302 West 45th Street. For Kiss Me, Kate ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.