He's played a pirate and a greaser; she's played fiery and lusty damsels. Appropriate training indeed for Rex Smith and Rachel York, who will play the egotistical, feuding leads in Kiss Me, Kate when the hit Broadway musical embarks on its national tour starting in June.
Smith, who played Danny Zuko in the original Grease and Frederick in both the stage and movie versions of Joseph Papp's pop and popular Pirates of Penzance, will be Fred Graham, an actor with an eye for the ladies and a sharp tongue for his ex-wife - who's touring in the same show. York, who came to the fore in City of Angels and later won a Drama Desk Award as Best Featured Actress in Victor/Victoria, plays Lilli, who has a love-hate relationship with her ex-hubby, Smith.
Smith and York had a hate-hate relationship in their last teaming: he was the malevolent Chauvelin and she his former squeeze, Marguerite, in The Scarlet Pimpernel.
As for the KMK tour, New Haven will be the first stop, in June, followed by such cities as Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and San Francisco, according to tour press reps Tanya Grubich and Molly Haydon. Roger Berlind and Roger Horchow are producing.
The current, Tony-winning Broadway revival continues, with Burke Moses, remembered for his swaggering performance as Gaston Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, having joined the cast Jan. 30 at the Martin Beck Theatre. Moses stepped into the revival to play Fred, the egomaniacal actor director-producer who is staging and starring in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Like Brian Stokes Mitchell before him, Moses gets to sing choice "modern" songs such as "So in Love" (the reprise) and "Wunderbar," and Shakespeare-inspired patter and comedy songs such as "Where Is the Life That Late I Led" and "I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua."
Mitchell, who won a Tony Award in the role, left the show Jan. 28 to join the company of the Broadway-bound King Hedley II, the new play by August Wilson.
Tony Award-nominee Marin Mazzie who plays Fred's ex-wife, Lilli, and Petruchio's Kate, continues in the celebrated Kiss Me, Kate, which began in fall 1999.
Moses made his Broadway debut as Sky Masterson in the Jerry Zaks revival of Guys and Dolls. He created the role of testosterone-pumped villain Gaston in the Broadway production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast and earned a Drama Desk nomination and a Theatre World Award. He also swaggered in the tuner in the Los Angeles and London productions . Moses appeared in the Encores! staging of Lil Abner (title role) and Dubarry Was a Lady.
Alfred Drake starred in the original Broadway production on Kate in 1948.