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By Barbara L. Fredricksen, Arts and Entertainment
Published February 22, 2008
[Photo by Bud Thacker]
Of all of William Shakespeare's plays, The Taming of the Shrew has, arguably, been the most socially controversial. Set in 16th century Italy, it's the tale of the abusive, loudmouthed, gold-digging boor Petruchio, who browbeats his high-tempered, outspoken wife Katherina - Kate, for short - into submission.
Women of Shakespeare's day protested its open endorsement of wife abuse; women of today are appalled by the very idea.
So why did Cole Porter pick it as the basis for his musical Kiss Me, Kate, (Feb. 29 to April 13 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre)?
Perhaps to have some fun with the whole outrageous idea.
In Porter's musical, the divorced husband-and-wife acting team, Lilli and Fred (Jan Leigh Herndon, Mame; W.C. Green, South Pacific), battle on stage as Petruchio and Kate in a musical version of the Shakespeare play, even as they rage at each other behind the scenes for a similar reason: Who'sthe boss?
In the end, Kate/Lilli bows her knee and submits to her husband, admonishing other wives to do the same, singing I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple. It's a touchy moment.
Some scholars, including Yale University's highly respected Harold Bloom, say that Kate's final speech is ironic, that she is pretending to be submissive so that she can gain the upper hand in the marriage.
Most scholars, however, say Kate's submission is genuine.
The direction that Kate/Lilli goes in the musical Kiss Me, Kate depends on the vision of the director and attitude assumed by the woman playingthe role.
Whichever way it goes, the show is filled with comedy, dancing, slapstick and some of Porter's most memorable songs: Another Op'nin, Another Show; From This Moment On; So In Love; and the comic Brush Up Your Shakespeare, sung by a couple of mobsters played by Matthew McGee (Greater Tuna) and Doug Neville (The Full Monty).
A subplot involves Kate's little sister Bianca (Jillanne Galter, Show Palace debut), who is the example of a perfectly subservient wife in Taming, but as the character Lois is one saucy, man-hungry female.
Bianca is pursued by Lucentio (Tyler Fish, Monty) and many others, but she's no pushover for off-stage boyfriend Bill (Fish), swearing she's Always True to You in My Fashion, as she flirts with every man in sight.
Bill has other problems, namely, a gambling habit, which draws the Shakespeare-loving mobsters.
The original Kiss Me, Kate hit Broadway in 1948, was made into a movie in 1953 and was revived and reworked in a Tony Award-winning showin 1999.
Katie Kerwin (Monty) is directing and choreographing the show. Stan Collins is music director.
Check it out
'Kiss Me, Kate'
Where: Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson.
When: Feb. 29 to April 13. Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (doors open at 6 p.m.), 3 p.m. Sundays and 1:30 p.m. some Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Tickets: Dinner and show, $44; show only, $32.95; ages 12 and under, $26.45 and $21.45, all plus tax and tip. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll-free elsewhere 1-888-655-7469.
[Last modified February 21, 2008, 20:07:10]