Friday, November 10, 2017

Is Kate Great?

What's news on the Rialto?  Top Broadway musical star Kelli O'Hara will be starring in a new production of Kiss Me, Kate.

This follows a pattern--she's already appeared in classics like South PacificThe Pajama Game. and, most recently, The King And I.  But as delightful as Kiss Me, Kate is, isn't this sort of a step down?

For all the attention the King gets in The King And I, it's Anna's show all the way. She gets five songs, not including reprises, while the King really gets only two.

Kiss Me, Kate is more even between the leading couple, but when it comes down to it, Fred gets better numbers than Lilli.

Yes, she gets "So In Love" (which Fred reprises later), and also takes part in "Wunderbar" and "We Open In Venice," but her other solo numbers don't measure up to Fred's.

He gets "I've Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua," "Were Thine That Special Face" and "Where Is The Life That Late I Led?," all delights.  But Lilli is stuck with "I Hate Men" and "I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple."  I'm sure O'Hara can put them over, but they're some of the weakest material in the show.

Meanwhile, in the secondary couple*, Lois and Bill, Lois cleans up.  He gets to dance a bit, but his big song is "Bianca," almost a placeholder.  She gets the killer numbers "Why Can't You Behave," "Tom, Dick Or Harry" and "Always True To You (In My Fashion)."

Kelli O'Hara will be playing the lead, but maybe she should consider trading down.

*A leading romantic couple and a secondary comic couple were an old tradition which Broadway continued in the golden age of the integrated musical.  The only show of that era I can think of with two couples of equal status is Guys And Dolls.

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