Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Dance Party: Kick Her Right In The Coriolanus.

Taming of the Shrew, American Conservatory Theatre.
Tonight I'll be starting rehearsal for my next endeavor, I'm sure I'll be writing all about it in subsequent pages.  In honor of the gig, this week's Dance Party features a number from the film version of the stage play which was inspired by my new project.  Clear as mud?
Taming of the Shrew does not, as far as I know, have a musical version, though civilians sometimes think Kiss Me, Kate is one. 
The original Broadway production won the first Tony
Award for Best Musical, in 1949.

The Cole Porter classic is an original piece which contains a few snippets of Shakespeare's text.  It is the story of an acting troop putting on a musical version of Taming of the Shrew, conveniently called Kiss Me, Kate.  So, there are backstage shenanigans as well as onstage numbers which comprise the entirely fictional musical in question.  Still not clear?  Who cares?
Ann Miller's rendition of "Too Darn Hot" was one of the few major revisions made from stage to screen.  On stage, it's sung by chorus members. On film, Miller's Lois Lane tap dances on the furniture during a cocktail party.
Kiss Me, Kate is considered one of the classic chestnuts of the Golden Age of the American Musical, and is still revived with regularity today. 
This London revival was filmed
live for PBS.
The film version is a pretty faithful adaptation of the Broadway show, though the clip below is one instance where an adjustment was made.  In the stage show, the song is sung
by a couple of gangsters who find themselves unexpectedly onstage.  Here, the same two gangsters try to cheer up the leading man after he's been dumped. Wherever it's placed, the number is still one of the memorable tunes from the score. 
Teen Idol Rex Smith toured in a
revival in the  90s.  He did not look
like this at the time.

Our stars here are Keenan Wynn, who knew his way around a musical, and James Whitmore, who did not.  But they make a bit of fun of Whitmore's lack of coordination in the dance,  so all's well that ends well (sorry).
That's Bob Fosse, with Carol Haney, during a specialty pas de deux constructed for the film version.
I'll be brushing up my iambic pentameter in the coming weeks, playing Gremio in Taming of the Shrew.  I have a pretty fair amount of experience with the Bard, having appeared in about a third of his plays (so far), but it's been a decade or so since my last Shakespearean show.  This summer, I'll be doing two, so it's time to heed these guys' advice.