Kiss Me, Kate (Original 1948)


Kiss Me, Kate (Original 1948)

Cole Porter, Samuel Spewack, Bella Spewack

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  3f, 6m

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter / Book by Sam and Bella Spewack

The battle of the sexes takes center stage as former spouses feud onstage and off during a musical presentation of The Taming of the Shrew. Sophisticated, romantic and delightfully hilarious, Kiss Me, Kate boasts a sparkling Cole Porter score and a brilliant book from Sam and Bella Spewack.

Photo: Joan Marcus

Kiss Me, Kate (Original 1948)
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  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3f, 6m
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Shakespeare), Period, Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
  • First recipient of the Tony Award for Best Musical
    Winner! Five 1949 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Script and Best Score
    Winner! Five 2000 Tony Awards, including Best Revival and Best Orchestrations
    Winner! Six 2000 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Revival and Orchestrations
    Nominee: Four 2019 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival
    Winner! 2019 Drama League Award, Outstanding Revival of a Musical

Passions run high as leading lady Lilli Vanessi and her ex-husband, actor/director Fred Graham, battle onstage and off in a production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. With romance, comedy, sophistication, and behind-the-scenes high jinks, Kiss Me, Kate combines the irreverent humor of four brilliant writers: Sam and Bella Spewack, Cole Porter and William Shakespeare. Musical numbers include "So In Love," "Wunderbar," "Tom, Dick or Harry," "Too Darn Hot," "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," "I Hate Men," "Always True to You (In My Fashion)" and "Another Op'nin, Another Show."


Kiss Me, Kate opened on Broadway on December 30, 1948 at the New Century Theatre, starring Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang. The show transferred to the Shubert Theatre and ran for a total of 1,077 performances. A London production opened on March 8, 1951 and ran for 400 performances at the Coliseum Theatre. The original cast album issued in 1948 by Columbia Records was the very first Broadway cast recording to be issued on LP. And in 1949, Kiss Me, Kate won the very first Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1999, a revised version of the show was revived on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre, starring Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell. The production was extremely well recieved, and played for 881 performances. The 1999 revival at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London played for about 300 performances, starring Marin Mazzie and Brent Barrett. In 2018, the Roundabout Theatre Company presented a newly revised version of Kiss Me, Kate starring Kelli O'Hara and Will Chase. The critically acclaimed revival ran through June 30, 2019.

Act I

In a Baltimore theatre, the cast of a musical version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew rehearses for the opening of the show that evening ("Another Op'nin', Another Show"). Egotistical director/producer/leading man Fred Graham stars as Petruchio, and his movie star ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, is playing Katherine. The two argue incessantly, and Lilli is particularly angered by Fred's interest in the atractive young actress Lois Lane, who is playing Bianca. After the rehearsal, Lois's boyfriend Bill appears; he is playing Lucentio, but he missed the rehearsal because he was gambling. He tells her that he signed a $10,000 IOU in Fred's name, and Lois reprimands him ("Why Can't You Behave?").

Before the opening, Fred and Lilli meet backstage, and Lilli shows off her engagement ring from Washington insider Harrison Howell, reminding Fred that it's the anniversary of their divorce. They recall the operetta in which they met ("Wunderbar"). Two gangsters show up to collect the $10,000 IOU, and Fred replies that he never signed it. The gangsters say they’ll give him time to remember it and will return later. In her dressing room, Lilli receives flowers from Fred, and she realises that she is still "So In Love." Fred tries to prevent Lilli from reading the card that came with the flowers, because he actually intended them for Lois. But Lilli takes the card with her onstage, saying she will read it later.

The show begins ("We Open in Venice"). Baptista, Katherine and Bianca's wealthy father, will not allow his younger daughter Bianca to marry until his older daughter Katherine is married. But Kate is shrewish and ill tempered, and no man desires to marry her. Three suitors - Lucentio, Hortensio, and Gremio - try to woo Bianca, and she says that she would marry any of them ("Tom, Dick, or Harry"). Petruchio, a friend of Lucentio, arrives, expressing a desire to marry into wealth ("I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua"). The suitors hatch a plan for him to marry Kate.

Kate, however, has no intentions of getting married ("I Hate Men"). Nonetheless, Petruchio attempts to woo her ("Were Thine That Special Face"). Offstage, Lilli has an opportunity to read the card. She walks on stage off-cue and begins hitting Fred, who, along with the other actors, tries to remain in character as Baptista grants Petruchio permission to marry Kate.

Offstage, Lilli furiously declares she is leaving the show. However, the gangsters have reappeared, and Fred tells them that if Lilli quits, he'll have to close the show and won't be able to pay them the $10,000. The gangsters, at gunpoint, force Lilli to stay.

Onstage, Bianca and Lucentio dance together ("We Sing of Love"). Petruchio and Kate, newly wed, exit the church, followed by the gangsters, now dressed in Shakespearean costume as they keep an eye on Lilli. Petruchio implores Kate to kiss him, and she refuses. He lifts her over his shoulder and carries her offstage while she pummels his shoulder with her fists ("Kiss Me, Kate").

Act II

During the show's intermission, the cast and crew relax in the alley behind the theatre. Paul, Fred's assistant, along with a couple other crew members, lament that it's "Too Darn Hot" to meet their lovers that night. The play continues, and Petruchio exhausted from 'taming' Katherine, mourns for his now-lost bachelor life ("Where Is the Life That Late I Led?").

Offstage, Lilli's fiancé Harrison Howell looks for her. He runs into Lois, and she recognises him as a former lover but promises not to tell Lilli. Bill is shocked to overhear this, but Lois tells him that even if she is involved with other men, she is faithful to him in her own way ("Always True to You in My Fashion"). Lilli tries to explain to Howell that she is being forced to stay at the theatre by the gangsters, but Howell doesn't believe her and wants to discuss wedding plans. Fred insidiously points out how boring Lilli's life with Howell will be compared to the theatre. Bill sings a love song he has written for Lois ("Bianca").

The gangsters discover that their boss has been killed, so the IOU is no longer valid. Lilli leaves—without Howell—as Fred unsuccessfully tries to convince her to stay ("So in Love" Reprise). The gangsters get caught on stage and improvise a tribute to the Bard ("Brush Up Your Shakespeare"). The company prepares for the conclusion of the play, the wedding of Bianca and Lucentio, despite Lilli’s absence. Just in time, Lilli enters and delivers Kate’s final speech beautifully ("I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple"). Fred and Lilli wordlessly reconcile on stage, and the play ends with the two couples united (Finale).


Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Senior Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups
  • Youth/Camp Programs

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: 1940s / WWII, 16th Century / Elizabethan
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: A theatre in Baltimore, 1948 (and Padua, Italy during the Renaissance).
  • Additional Features: Stage Combat
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


3f, 6m
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
(In Order of Appearance)

Fred Graham – Actor, Producer, Writer
Harry Trevor
Lois Lane
Ralph (Stage Manager)
Lilli Vanessi
Stage Doorman
Bill Calhoun
First Man
Second Man
Harrison Howell
Specialty Dancers

“Taming Of The Shrew” Players

Bianca (Lois Lane)
Baptista (Harry Trevor)
Gremio (First Suitor)
Hortensio (Second Suitor)
Lucentio (Bill Calhoun)
Katharine (Lilli Vanessi)
Petruchio (Fred Graham)

Singing Ensemble
Dancing Ensemble

The original Broadway production had a cast of 40, including chorus.


  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Difficult
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Large

Act I

Overture – Orchestra
1. “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” – Hattie & Chorus
1a. Dance – Orchestra
1b. Reprise: “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” – Hattie & Chorus
1c. Scene change – Orchestra
2. “Why Can’t You Behave” – Lois & Bill
2a. Scene Change – Orchestra
3. “Wunderbar” – Lilli & Fred
4. “So In Love Am I” – Lilli
5. Padua Street Scene – Dancers
5 (cont.) “We Open In Venice” – Katherine, Petruchio, Bianca, Lucentio, & Chorus
5a. Padua Street Scene – Orchestra
6. “Tom, Dick, Or Harry” – Bianca & Suitors (Lucentio, Hortensio, & Gremio)
6a. Encore: “Tom, Dick, Or Harry” – Bianca & Suitors
7. Rose Dance – Orchestra
8. “I’ve Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua” – Petruchio & Men
9. “I Hate Men” – Katherine
10. “Were Thine That Special Face” – Petruchio
11. Scene Change – Orchestra
11a. Scene Change – Orchestra
12. “I Sing Of Love” – Bianca, Lucentio, & Chorus
12a. Tarantella – Orchestra
13. Finale: “Kiss Me, Kate” – Kate, Petruchio, Principals, & Chorus

Act II

14. Entr’acte – Orchestra
15. “Too Darn Hot” – Paul & Boys
15a. Scene Change – Orchestra
16. “Where Is The Life That Late I Led” – Petruchio
16a. Scene Change – Orchestra
17. “Always True To You (In My Fashion)” – Lois
17a. 1st Encore – Lois
17b. 2nd Encore – Lois
17c. Scene Change – Orchestra
18. “Bianca” – Bill & Girls
19. Reprise: “So In Love Am I” – Fred
19a. Scene Change – Orchestra
20. “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” – Two Gangsters
20a. 1st Encore – Two Gangsters
20b. 2nd Encore – Two Gangsters
21. Pavanne – Orchestra
22. “Women Are So Simple” – Katherine
23. Finale: “So Kiss Me, Kate” – Full Company
24. Final Dance – Orchestra
24a. Grand Finale: “Last Curtain” – Full Company

Full Orchestration

Violin 1
Violin 2

Reed 1: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Flute 2
Reed 2: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Bass Clarinet
Reed 3: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Oboe & English Horn
Reed 4: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Flute 1 & Piccolo
Reed 5: Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone & Bassoon

Trumpet 1 & 2
Trumpet 3


Timpani (2 Drums)
Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
Bass Drum
Tom Tom
Cymbals (Suspended & Hi-Hat)
Wood Block
Vibraphone (optional)

Guitar – Mandolin (doubles Violin)



Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
42 Libretto/Vocal Score
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
1 Horn
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone
1 Percussion
1 Harp
1 Guitar
1 Piano
2 Violins 1
1 Violins 2
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass

Piano Only:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
42 Libretto/Vocal Book

Additional Resources And Services Available



"Utterly, deliriously fun!" - Davi Cote, Observer

"The crowning achievement of Cole Porter’s long and celebrated career on Broadway, Kiss Me, Kate is a valentine to stage folk, a love letter in song linking Shakespeare and showbiz." - Charles Isherwood, Variety

"You have only to listen to Porter’s score — a swoon-worthy progression of deftly shifting rhythms and sophisticated rhymes and musical motifs — to understand the show’s timeless charm." - Peter Marks, The Washington Post

"It’s a pleasure to roar at suffering that is big and fake and somebody else’s. Kiss Me, Kate is cleverly constructed to provide that pleasure squared...Porter’s score remains an astonishing encyclopedia of musical comedy style." - Jesse Green, The New York Times

"I hardly need to extol the smutty, nutty, indelible Porter score, with heaven-sent numbers such as 'Too Darn Hot,' 'Tom, Dick or Harry' and that deathless show-folk anthem, 'Another Op’nin’, Another Show.'" - Davi Cote, Observer

"Cole Porter's knockout score [features] such gems as 'Another Op'nin,' Another Show,' 'So In Love,' and that great second act opener, "Too Darn Hot," which sets the place on fire!" - Roma Torre, NY1

"Cole Porter's sybarite's delight of a musical...broad, brazen, often shameless and finally irresistible...Kiss Me, Kate asserts that there is still a place for sophisticated, grown-up fun in the New York theater." - Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Music Samples


  • Kiss Me, Kate - 2019 Broadway

  • "Too Darn Hot" 2019 Tony Awards

  • "Bianca"

  • "Tom, Dick or Harry"

  • "So In Love"

  • Kiss Me, Kate - Movie Trailer

More videos +


  • Kiss Me, Kate (Original 1948)

    Credit: Joan Marcus

  • Kiss Me, Kate (Original 1948)

    Credit: Joan Marcus



Cole Porter

Cole Porter was born in Peru, Indiana in 1891 and died in Hollywood 73 years later. In between, he wrote some of the most memorable songs ever heard on stage or screen, among them “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine,” “You’re The Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Love For Sale,” and “Just One of Tho ...

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Samuel Spewack

Samuel Spewack (1899-1971) and Bella Spewack (1899-1990) met while working as journalists and married in 1922. Bella’s youth was chronicled in Streets: A Memoir of the Lower East Side (1995, Feminist Press). Their first play, Solitaire Man, premiered in 1926. Clear All Wires (1932) became ...

View full profile

Bella Spewack

Bella Spewack (1899-1990) and Samuel Spewack (1899-1971) met while working as journalists and married in 1922. Bella’s youth was chronicled in Streets: A Memoir of the Lower East Side (1995, Feminist Press). Their first play, Solitaire Man, premiered in 1926. Clear All Wires (1932) became ...

View full profile

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