Words by Cole Porter and Music by Cole Porter
Nuffield Theatre,
February 2000
Cast List
2nd Messenger
Harry Trevor/ Baptista
Bill Calhoun / Lucentio
First Servant / Nurse
Lois Lane/ Bianca
Lilli Vanessi/ Katharine
First Girl
Cab Driver / 1st Messenger
Harrison Howell
Second Girl
3rd Messenger
Fred Graham/ Petruchio
Doctor / 5th Messenger
Simon / Hortensio
First Gangster
Second Servant
Second Gangster
Stage Doorkeeper
David / Gremio
4th Messenger

Notes on this performance

92. Kiss Me, Kate

Proof reader wanted…

John Miller led a sub-committee that looked at potential shows and produced the Society’s first Five Year Plan, complete with likely Producers and MDs. This recommended that SOS should start off the new millennium with Kismet led by a directing team of Philippa Taylor and Paul Spanton. However, Philippa pointed out that Kismet required a large orchestra, involved some difficult music, needed three strong tenors and had little chorus work so Kiss Me, Kate was brought forward a year.

The Nuffield was not very helpful in providing a firm date for the show and a deposit was left at the Point in Eastleigh – just in case. Paul also found it necessary to stand down as MD and Martin Paterson took over – happily, Paul was well enough to join the band. Philippa tried to re-organise the usual auditioning process by holding a read through of the script prior to casting but, unfortunately, the readings were not shared around very fairly and those who did most seemed to end up as the successful candidates. No doubt it was a perfectly innocent co-incidence but it does not take much for unsuccessful auditionees to feel aggrieved.

Kiss Me, Kate involves some big tap-dancing numbers and this was a new experience for the members; a separate room was hired on Monday evenings so that Anita Pritchard could teach the novices the basics but there was a lack of clarity on who exactly would be involved in the routines. People were also leaving the show, which meant Anita constantly having to reset everything. Some of the principals were also becoming disenchanted because Philippa preferred everyone to attend all the rehearsals and, consequently, they were spending a lot of time just sitting around.

There were problems off stage as well. Business Manager, Robert Long, had approached several companies about the production but times had changed and a sponsor was not forthcoming; worse still, essential information required for the performing licence had been omitted from the flyers and posters and they had to be reprinted at a cost of around £700. A proof reader was definitely required in the future and this was underlined when spelling mistakes were found on the cast’s T-shirts. 

The Echo review recognised that there was much to praise in the show but could not ignore some drawbacks: 'This production boasted a very keen ensemble which danced with enthusiasm and sang with verve. But by far the best number was Colin Pritchard and David Rayner's "Brush up your Shakespeare". Throughout the evening, these men in tights delivered much comic business and characterisation. Talented leading lady Angela Mackie played a feisty Lilli to Mike Pavitt's well-sung Fred and Carol Johnson's first solo stood out. At times though, what should have been a racy musical felt static, having a very laboured opening. Everyone who had to use the stage was hampered by the badly-designed and unnecessary dressing room set.’

Ticket sales for Kiss Me, Kate were reasonable but the royalties were high; over £3000 was spent on advertising and consequently the show made a loss of £972.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Mike and Angela

Mike Pavitt (Fred Graham/Petruchio) with Angela Mackie (Lilli Vanessi/Katharine)

Photo of Carol Johnson etc

Simon Pontin (Simon/Hortensio), David Tatnall (David/Gremio), Carol Johnson (Lois Lane/Bianca), Adam Case (Bill Cahoun/Lucentio)

Photo of Play

Standing: Mike Wainwright, Guy Marchant, Mike Pavitt (Fred Graham/Petruchio), Simon Pontin (Simon/Hortensio), David Tatnall (David/Gremio), Richard Peaty

Photo of Gangsters

Colin Pritchard (First Gangster) and David Rayner (Second Gangster) above Mike Pavitt (Fred Graham/Petruchio)

Photo of Tap Dancers

Tap Dance Routine: First row - Nichola McKinley, Sarah Marriott, Sarah Stoten

Photo of Alan Morgan

Standing: Colin Pritchard (First Gangster), David Rayner (Second Gangster), Mike Pavitt (Fred Graham/Petruchio) Lower: Alan Morgan (Harrison Howell) and Angela Mackie (Lilli Vanessi/Katharine)