Like several other shows on Broadway, the Tony-winning musical revival Kiss Me, Kate decided to close on Sept. 23, smarting from the sudden lack of tourists and theatregoers in the wake of the murderous Sept. 11 destruction of the World Trade Center. An eleventh hour bid of generosity and team spirit on the part of the company, however, has extended the Cole Porter show’s life.
A spokesperson for the show, speaking to Playbill On-Line Sept. 23, said the entire company—from the actors onstage to the many workers behind the scene—have agreed to take a 25 percent pay cut, similar to that accepted by five other Broadway musicals last week. In addition to that, the company members will voluntarily donate another quarter of their pay for the purchase of tickets to the show. Those tickets will find their way into the hands of the many rescue workers who have had a hand in the recovery effort at Ground Zero.
Last week, while the producers of others shows were busy vying for labor concessions to keep their flagging productions aloft, Kiss Me, Kate told the unions it couldn’t get by in the rough economic climate with anything less than a 50 percent salary cut. Union leaders rejected this as unworkable; subsequently, Kate posted a closing notice for Sept. 23.
At some point, though, the cast and crew appeared to taken to heart Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s pleas that New Yorkers take in a Broadway show as a way to boost the fortunes of the suffering city. They accepted the pay decrease of 25 percent (also adopted last week by Chicago, Les Miz, Phantom, Rent and The Full Monty). They then devised a plan to donate another 25 percent of their paycheck, to be used to buy tickets to Kate. The tickets will be given the displaced families affected by the tragedy, relief workers and volunteers. "In addition," read a press release, the company "felt that by helping to keep Kiss Me, Kate,open - and another Broadway show lit - that they are taking a stand by not allowing the events of the crisis to diminish what Broadway and New York has to offer. "
According to the show, "The tickets will be distributed to Broadway Cares and will be allocated to the Fire Department of New York Family Crisis Center, American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NYC and Company (helping dislocated) and Families Center (set up by NYC at Pier 94)." The arrangement will keep Kate open another two weeks, after which the plan will be reassessed, said a spokesperson. On Sept. 23, there were reports of lines of ticketbuyers snaking down the street in front of the Martin Beck, hinting that the show may have a life beyond those two weeks.
The World Trade Center attacks brought with them a rash of sudden closings on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Over the last few days, however, producers have seemingly regained their courage and endeavored to save their productions. The Rocky Horror Show closed on Sept. 23, but talk, which could not be confirmed as of press time, places a reopening around Halloween, Oct. 31. Bat Boy, the Musical, is ending performances Sept. 23, but there was word Sept. 21 from production sources that the darkly comic cult favorite may go on hiatus for three weeks prior to a mid-October resumption of performances.
Kate, which won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, had recently announced it would end its more than two-year run Dec. 30, on its own terms, but the Broadway economy plunged following the Sept. 11 tragedy in Manhattan, and the producers decided to cut their losses and their perceived future losses, early. By Sept. 23, the show would have played 28 previews and 769 regular performances. A national tour continues, and Marin Mazzie (who originated the role of Lilli/Kate in this revival) opens in the London staging in October. A cast album is on store shelves.
Previews for the Michael Blakemore-directed staging began in New York Oct. 25, 1999, and opening was Nov. 18 that year. Burke Moses and Carolee Carmello are the current stars of the show, at the Martin Beck Theatre. Janine LaManna and Kevin Neil McCready co-star as Lois and Bill, respectively. The next tenant at the Beck is the new musical, Sweet Smell of Success, starring John Lithgow, in early 2002.
For Kiss Me, Kate ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.