A year after the launch of the national tour of Kiss Me, Kate, the "troupe of strolling players" in the Cole Porter musical is on its last stop, June 11-16.
The year-long national tour spawned by the 1999-2000 Broadway revival ends June 16 at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC. Rachel York and Rex Smith lead a company that includes Jenny Hill (who replaced Nancy Anderson as Lois Lane/Bianca), Kevin Neil McCready (who replaced Jim Newman as Bill/Lucentio), Michael Arkin (Second Man), Susan Beaubian (Hattie), Randy Donaldson (Paul), Herman Petras (Harry Trevor/Baptista), Richard Poe (First Man), Chuck Wagner (Harrison Howell/Fred Understudy), John D. Baker, Tina Marie Casamento, Juliet Fischer, Ivy Fox, Patty Goble, Keith Howard, Michael Lackey, Rachel Lafer, Lisa A. Mayer, Kevin B. McGlynn, Kimberly Dawn Neumann, Stephen Reed, Marci Reid, Jody Reynard, Roland Rusinek, Laura Schutter, Steven Sofia, Matthew J. Vargo, Lee A. Wilkins and Carmen Yurich.
The tour began June 19, 2001, in New Haven, CT. Smith, who played reluctant pirate Frederick in both the stage and movie versions of Joseph Papp's pop and popular Pirates of Penzance, is Fred Graham, an actor with an eye for the ladies and a sharp tongue for his ex-wife. 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, played by Smith. Sparks fly as Fred and Lilli star opposite one another in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew in the classic backstage show by Cole Porter and librettists Samuel and Bella Spewack. The Broadway revival, which opened in fall 1999 ended at the Martin Beck Theatre Dec. 30, 2001 (Burke Moses and Carolee Carmello starred, replacing Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie).
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 on Broadway. 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.
For more information, try kissmekateontour.com.
The Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate ended its acclaimed two-year run after more than 850 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre Dec. 30, 2001. The U.K. staging of the Broadway production is currently in London.
On Broadway, the show played 28 previews and 885 regular performances.