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Mitchell on Kiss Me, Kate: "The show is literate and funny and accessible and heartfelt and incredibly sexy."

and was initially reluctant to take part in the revival. "There are a lot of traps that are easy to fall into in this show," he says. "One of the problems I had is that I never liked Fred and Lilli. He was this arrogant, egomaniacal guy, and she was this high-maintenance witch. I never wanted to see them get together at the end of the show. And you have to love the leads; you have to want to see them get together. But because they're always fighting, people have done the show as if they hate each other. That's a big trap. They have to love each other silly, so that the audience wants to see them get together. And as I read the script, I found all the things I thought were missing. The show is literate and funny and accessible and heartfelt and incredibly sexy. The playing has to be crisp and deft and light, a champagne bubbles kind of comedy."

Both Mitchell and Mazzie bring a decidedly contemporary sensibility to their roles, while remaining true to the spirit of the piece. "To me, 'shrew' does not only have to be a woman and I believe both of them are tamed," says Mazzie, echoing a sentiment expressed by Mitchell. "I think of Taming of the Shrew as the coming of age of this woman, of this girl. Kate probably would have been about 14 years old. Women got married at 14 in Shakespeare's time. I believe that the first time she and Petruchio see each other, they fall madly in love. But she's a strong spirit, and she's being forced to marry, so the battle begins."

The battle of the sexes being what it is, Kiss Me, Kate is perhaps as politically incorrect--thank goodness!--as a show can be these days. Every connected with the production is aware that the p.c. police might very well take exception to certain moments in the show, but no one seems particularly concerned. "During rehearsals, we talked about the scene in which Petruchio spanks Kate, which is really Fred spanking Lilli," says Mazzie. "Some [[article continues on next page]]

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Broadway's original Kate reminisces about the show, Cole Porter and co-star Alfred Drake

Patricia Morison was an actress known mostly for playing the heavy in movies, when she was asked to audition for Kiss Me, Kate. A decade earlier, she had appeared opposite Alfred Drake in an operetta called The Two Bouquets, and her performance led to a film contract. But she'd grown tired of being typecast in Hollywood and was anxious to resurrect her singing career. In 1947 she had the opportunity to meet and sing for Cole Porter, and the following year he would recommend and champion her to the show's producers. "I am eternally grateful to Cole because he made it happen for me," says Morison, Broadway's original Kate, the role that reunited her with the late, great Alfred Drake.

Until the show tried out in Philadelphia, no one was sure that what they were doing was any good. "Everybody rehearsed separately," says Morison from her Los Angeles home, "the dancers in one room, the singers in another. We didn't hear the orchestrations until we got to Philadelphia. So we did not know what we had. I do know that when I rehearsed 'I Hate Men,' members of the cast would come over to me and say, 'That song is going to make you look awful. Can't you get Cole to take it out?' So I went to Cole and said, 'I'm

[[image - black and white photograph of long-haired woman standing proudly with serious expression, looking sideways and upwards, wearing an elaborate full-length, off-the shoulder dress with a bodice and bold colors.]] 
[[caption]]Patricia Morison in Kiss Me, Kate.[[/caption]]
[[photo credit]] PHOTO: ALIX JEFFRY, COURTESY OF MS. MORISON [[/photo credit]]
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[[boxed text]] WWW.PLAYBILL.COM [[/boxed text]] 
[[underline]] PURE THEATRE ONLINE [[/underline]]

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