Kiss Me Kate
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These included Ethel Merman in "Anything Goes" (1954), Mary Martin in "Peter Pan" (1955, 1956, and 1960) and Julie Andrews in "Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" (1957). "Cinderella" was actually an original musical for television that subsequently enjoyed a healthy life on stage.
This Black and White (kinescope) "Kiss Me, Kate" has the distinct advantage of Alfred Drake and Patricia Morrison re-creating their original Broadway roles from a decade earlier. Drake and Morrison are superb as tempermental Fred Graham and Lili Vanessi, feuding former spouses who reunite for a musical version of Shakespeare's "Taming Of The Shrew" on the first anniversary of their divorce. Fred and Lili's backstage brawling humorously mirrors the plot of "Shrew", which is occuring simultaneously on stage.
Alfred Drake lost his starring Broadway roles in "Kiss Me, Kate" and "Kismet" to Howard Keel when these musicals were made into movies. The charismatic Drake leaves no doubt that he is the definite Fred/Petruchio in "Kate." Julie Wilson, from the original London Cast, replaces Lisa Kirk here as lusty Lois. Harvey Lembeck and Jack Klugman almost steal the show as two gangters who get involved in the plot, both backstage and on stage, when Lois' gambling boyfriend Bill (the handsome Bill Hayes) signs Fred's name to an IOU. A few months after this broadcast, Jack Klugman orginated the role of Herbie opposite Ethel Merman as Rose in the original 1959 production of the Broadway classic "Gypsy."
The 78 minute running time does result in an abbreviated plot and score.Read more ›
A production of Kate done in front of a live audience in London was released by Image Entertainment in 2003, starring the studly Brent Barrett and the incredibly talented Rachel York. Perhaps a little forced, as taped stage productions tend to be, the real pleasure here is the complete score, played and performed to near perfection. This truly was Cole Porter's masterpiece, recreated here in all its glory.
However, we now have a black-and-white version of the 1958 Hallmark Hall of Fame production, the first Hallmark produced that was taped rather than done live. Released by the ambitious Video Artists International, the results for musical comedy fans are absolutely stupendous. We have Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison recreating their Broadway triumph, and triumphal it is indeed. Drake's pathos and subtlety in the great love ballad "Were Thine That Special Face" is easily matched by the bombast and exuberance of Morison banging away with "I Hate Men;" every nuance and meaning of every lyric is clearly, movingly, and expertly delivered.Read more ›
Each of the productions has its unique strengths, and they all do justice (in their own fashion) to the brilliant music of Cole Porter. But this version will not be to everyone's liking, principally because its video (and to a much lesser extent, its audio) quality leaves a lot to be desired. Contrast is rendered in shades of gray on gray; the kinescope process does not eliminate soft flickering lines that scroll sporadically up the screen, and focus is somewhat uneven. In my first viewing, it took me a good 20 minutes to get over my pique at the mediocre video quality, but the show was too good to let me keep pouting for long. In addition to the great music, the leads, Patricia Morison and Alfred Drake, are fabulous. She is absolutely beautiful, and her intelligence and artistry as an actress, along with her charisma place her--easily--in the top spot of the three dvd characterizations of Kate. Her stage presence shines in so many small ways; in the antechamber of the honeymoon bedroom scene, for example, she "plays" her lustrous long dark hair (she doesn't wear a wig) to brilliant comic effect, and when she smiles, no one's worried about the picture's grayness. Alfred Drake is no slouch either, and his rich baritone, along with his comedic skill, give him an edge over Howard Keel, or the macho crotch-grabbing Brent Barrett.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had the honor and pleasure to know Julie Wilson for several years before her recent passing, so watching her as Lois/Bianca makes this a special personal treat. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Richard White
VERY GOOD RENDITION OF THIS CLASSIIC, FAR BETTER TO ME THAN TEY MOVIE VERSION. tHANKSPublished 13 months ago by gooyduck
This is a prime example of what briadcasting a live Broadway show was like in the 50's. The recent DOUND OF MUSIC and PETER PAN were basically disasters conpared with the smooth,... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Handsomely transferred, this is a unique opportunity to see one of the most beloved musicals of the 1940s with its original leads. Read morePublished on April 17, 2014 by johnkenrick
Great performances. Would have been great to have included an interview with Patricia Morison, who is still alive, on the broadway show and this TV production. Read morePublished on April 9, 2014 by Rob Marcy
Alfred Drake is amazing. I had the LP album of his version of Kismet and ditched my LP albums and my stereo in a fit of downsizing. Some landfill has them both. Drake is wonderful. Read morePublished on September 21, 2013 by Jennifer