He's played a swaggering pirate, she's played fiery and lusty damsels, so it seems appropriate that Rex Smith and Rachel York are playing the egotistical, feuding leads in the new national tour of Kiss Me, Kate, launching June 19-July 1 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, will be 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 Samuel and Bella Spewack. The Broadway revival, which opened in fall 1999, continues at the Martin Beck Theatre (with Burke Moses and Carolee Carmello) even as the tour plays dates into 2002. Michael Blakemore and Kathleen Marshall recreate their direction and choreography, respectively, for the road.
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 cast of the touring company includes Nancy Anderson (A Class Act) as Lois/Bianca, Jim Newman (Minnelli on Minnelli, Steel Pier) as Bill/Lucentio, Michael Arkin (as Second Man), Susan Beaubian as Hattie, Randy Donaldson as Paul, Herman Petras as Harry Trevor/Baptista, Richard Poe as First Man and Chuck Wagner (Into the Woods) as Harrison Howell.
The Shubert Theatre New Haven run June 19-July 1, will be followed by The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, July 3-Aug. 5, the Music Hall in Dallas Aug. 7-19 and the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles Aug. 21-Oct. 7, as well as dates in St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Nashville, East Lansing, MI, Hartford, CT, Tampa, FL, St. Louis, Denver, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Tempe, AZ, Costa Mesa, CA, Norfolk, VA, Hershey, PA, Schenectady, NY, and Cleveland, with other cities to be announced. Roger Berlind and Roger Horchow are producing, as they did on Broadway. The ensemble of the national tour includes John D. Baker, Tina Marie Casamento, Laura Marie Crosta, John Treacy Egan, Juliet Fischer, Ivy Fox, Keith Howard, Michael Lackey, Rachel Lafer, Kevin B. McGlynn, Carol Lee Meadows, Kimberly Dawn Newumann, Stephen Reed, Marci Reid, Jody Reynard, Rommy Sandhu, Margaret Shafer, Steven Sofia, Matthew J. Vargo and Carmen Yurich.
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.