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Victoria Palace Theatre: Previewed 16 October, Opened 30 October 2001, Closed 24 August 2002

Musical by Cole Porter with book by Sam and Bella Spewack. Directed by Michael Blakemore with musical supervision by Paul Gemignani and choreography by Kathleen Marshall.

Revival of the classic Cole Porter musical - this is the London production of the multi-award winning Broadway revival.

This production - starring Brent Barrett, Michael Berresse, Nancy Anderson and Rachel York - was recorded at The Victoria Palace Theatre in August 2002, and is now available on DVD, more details....

One of the crowning glories of American musical comedy, Kiss Me, Kate first dazzled Broadway in 1948 becoming the first show to ever win a 'Best Musical' Tony Award. The first Broadway revival for nearly fifty years, Michael Blakemore's inspired production not only enchanted the critics and delighted audiences, but swept the board to become one of Broadway's biggest prize winners - including five 2000 Tony Awards for 'Best Revival of a Musical', 'Best Orchestrations' (Don Sebesky), 'Best Costume Design' (Martin Pakledinaz), 'Best Director of a Musical' (Michael Blakemore) and 'Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical' (Brian Stokes Mitchell).

With 18 unforgettable Cole Porter songs including 'Another Op'nin, Another Show'; 'Too Darn Hot'; 'Why Can't You Behave'; 'Wunderbar'; 'So In Love'; 'Always True To You in my Fashion' and 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare'.

This revival won the 2001 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for 'Best Musical' and the 2001 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for 'Best Musical'

Cast (as of 30 October 2001): Brent Barrett as 'Fred Graham/ Petruchio', Marin Mazzie 'Lilli Vanessi/ Katharine', Michael Berresse 'Bill Calhoun/ Lucentio' and Nancy Anderson 'Lois Lane/ Bianca' with Kaye E Brown 'Hattie', Jack Chissick 'second man', Nicolas Colicos 'Harrison Howell', Colin Farrell 'Harry Trevor/ Baptista', Nolan Frederick 'Paul', Teddy Kempner 'first man', Barry McNeill 'Hortensio/ second suitor', Richard Sidaway 'haberdasher', Duncan Smith 'Pops (stage doorman)', Andrew Spillett 'cab driver/ Nathaniel', Christopher Stewart 'Dance Captain/ Gregory', Phillip Sutton 'Philip', Alan Vicay 'Ralph (stage manager)', Nick Winston 'Gremio/ first suitor' along with Vikki Coote, Louise Dearman, Catherine Digges, Rebecca Giacopazzi, Christian Gibson, Pete Hillier, Lizzie Leigh, Jo Napthine, Kimmi Richards, Sarah Soetaert and Annette Yeo.

The American stars Brent Barrett, Michael Berresse and Nancy Anderson have extended their time in Kiss Me, Kate up to 24 August 2002. While, when Marin Mazzie leaves the show, her role of 'Lilli Vanessi/Katherine' will first be taken by Carolee Carmello from 3 to 29 June and then by Rachel York from 1 July to 24 August. On Monday 26 August a, as yet unannounced, full British company will take to the stage.

News about the show

On 15 May 2001: It was confirmed that Broadway revival production of the musical Kiss Me, Kate will open at London's Victoria Palace Theatre on 30 October 2001 with previews from 16 October - booking opened on 4 June 2001.

On 9 August 2001: The four leads for the West End production have now been confirmed as: Brent Barrett will play 'Fred Graham/ Petruchio', Marin Mazzie 'Lilli Vanessi/ Katharine', Michael Berresse 'Bill Calhoun/ Lucentio' and Nancy Anderson 'Lois Lane/ Bianca'. Marin Mazzie created the role of 'Lilli Vanessi' in this production of Kiss Me, Kate for which she won the Outer Critics' Circle Award for 'Outstanding Actress in a Musical'. Her other starring roles on Broadway include the musicals Ragtime, Passion and Into the Woods. Michael Berresse created the role of 'Bill Calhoun' in this production of Kiss Me, Kate. He has also starred in many Broadway musicals Chicago, Damn Yankees and Guys and Dolls. Brent Barrett has starred in many Broadway musicals Chicago, Annie Get Your Gun and Grand Hotel. Nancy Anderson has played the role of 'Lois Lane' in the North American tour of Kiss Me, Kate. She has also starred in the musicals Crazy For You, The Secret Garden and Sweeney Todd in North America.

On 26 November 2001: Kiss Me Kate won the London Evening Standard Theatre Award for 'Best Musical'.

On 4 December 2001: A new four month booking period was announced covering performances from 11 February to 9 June 2002. Tickets for these performances are now on sale. (Groups of 12 or more can book up to 28 September 2002, please inquire).

On 5 February 2002: This production won the 2001 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for 'Best Musical'

On 17 April 2002: Bookings are now been taken up to 1 March 2003. Some casting information was also announced: The American stars Brent Barrett, Michael Berresse and Nancy Anderson have extended their time in Kiss Me, Kate up to 24 August 2002. While, when Marin Mazzie leaves the show, her role of 'Lilli Vanessi/Katherine' will first be taken by Carolee Carmello from 3 to 29 June and then by Rachel York from 1 July to 24 August.
Carolee Carmello has been played 'Kate' on Broadway to great acclaim and her many other Broadway credits include City of Angels, Falsettos, 1776, Parade and Bells Are Ringing. Meanwhile Rachel York has been playing 'Kate' on the American tour of Kiss Me Kate, she has also starred in many stage roles, including the American productions of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Victor/Victoria.
On Monday 26 August a, as yet unannounced, full British company will take to the stage.

On 13 July 2002: It was announced that Kiss Me, Kate will close on 24 August 2002 after a run of 10 months. The show had been due to have a major cast change with the four American leads all leaving on this date to be replaced the with a full British company. It is thought that the costs involved in this re-casting (and rehearsals) is proving to be uneconomical and thus the show is closing.

Extracts from the reviews:

"Cole Porter's greatest musical charges into an embattled and demoralised West End like the US cavalry. With its blissfully tuneful score, superbly witty lyrics and great charge of Broadway energy, this blazingly confident show shines like a beacon in a capital suddenly afflicted by fear and self-doubt... In Sam and Bella Spewack's clever and delightful book, The Shrew provides a show within a show, with the story of Kate and Petruchio mirroring the backstage romantic tribulations of the actors who are playing them. The whole musical is a great hymn to showbiz, and from the unforgettable first number, "Another Op'nin', Another Show", Blakemore's production achieves exactly the right feeling of euphoric lift-off. He is greatly helped by Kathleen Marshall's exuberantly inventive choreography... The London production has a snap, crackle and pop which is every bit as engaging as the Broadway version... It is a dazzling evening of inventive, infectious pleasure. If you want to go "wow!", book to brush up your Shakespeare now." The Daily Telegraph

"I suspect this may be just the tonic that London's commercial theatre desperately needs: an almost flawless revival, imported from Broadway, of Cole Porter's 1948 Shakespeare-based musical. But the fascinating question is why, when virtually all Porter's other musicals are forgotten, this one survives so well. I am sure the answer lies in the little-credited librettists, Sam and Bella Spewack... by creating a strong framework and confining the action to a single setting the Spewacks bring the best out of Porter. But Michael Blakemore's production and Robin Wagner's equally superb design give the action total credibility... Marin Mazzie makes a mature, stately Lilli whom one can easily imagine in the kind of fake Viennese operettas so memorably evoked in Wunderbar. Brent Barrett also lends Fred Graham just the right touch of cocksure vanity and arrogance. And there is magnificent support all round... There may be greater musicals than Kiss Me Kate: there are few that provide such constant, time-suspending pleasure." The Guardian

"Watching Michael Blakemore's production of Kiss Me Kate, you keep thinking: it just can't get any better than this. And then, lo and behold, it does. The show tops its personal best so often that, by the end, the audience floats out of the theatre on a wave of unalloyed joy. Cole Porter's musical has no message of any kind. It has nothing to declare but its own blissful enjoyability and wicked showbiz knowingness, and in this version, which moves with a matchlessly cheeky verve and velocity, it makes that declaration loud and clear... Kathleen Marshall's exhilarating choreography pulsates with impish eroticism... If Porter's songs have a drawback, it's that they tend to be humorous but static variations on a single conceit. They don't, as songs in musicals officially should, effect change within the characters. Blakemore, however, brilliantly masks this defect, building dramatic variety with a battery of false endings, surprise resumptions and ceaselessly inventive business... Well, what are you waiting for? Hie thee to the Victoria Palace Theatre and "Brush Up Your Porter", for, as the song says, this is "truly wunderbar"." The Independent

"...The director, Michael Blakemore, wisely sets it in its 1948 period. In fact, the whole show is a delicious celebration of the American theatre of those days, with its tantrumy stars, wobbly, painted backcloths and truly great songs roughly every 10 minutes - from the sassy 'Too Darn Hot' and the gorgeous 'So In Love' to the sublimely silly 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare'. The show's joke is that the two leads give each other hell off-stage and on-stage in a ghastly musical version of Taming of the Shrew. The two hams in this, Miss Lilli Vanessi and Mr Fred Graham - played in superb comic tandem by Marin Mazzie and Brent Barrett - are brilliantly physical and funny and both sing like larks... Cooking up a storm when it needs to, this loving version hits notes of genuine tenderness and charm. The whole thing is a tremendous treat from a golden era." The Express

 
 
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