Kelli O'Hara as Kate/Lilli Vanessi with the cast of the Kiss Me, Kate revival (courtesy Polk & Co.)
The classic Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate dazzled audiences when it first opened on The Great White Way in 1948. It went on to win the very first Tony Award for Best Musical, and it's seen London and NYC revivals almost every decade since. Tomorrow (Valentine's Day!), previews begin for its latest Broadway revival, this time by Roundabout Theatre Company. The high-energy romantic comedy based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew features iconic tunes, including "Too Darn Hot," "So In Love," and "Another Op'nin, Another Show," and the revival will star Broadway veteran Kelli O'Hara as Kate/Lilli Vanessi, Will Chase as Petruchio/Fred Graham, and Corbin Bleu as Lucentio/Bill Calhoun. There will also be brand-new choreography by Warren Carlyle. Dance Spirit got the inside scoop on the production from dancer Christine Cornish Smith, who will also be understudying the role of Lois Lane/Bianca.
Dance Spirit: What does getting to perform in Kiss Me, Kate mean to you?
Christine Cornish Smith: These kinds of shows that are often revivals, and have been around for a while, are still around for a reason. They've withstood the test of time because they're quality material. I love revisiting older musicals, including Kiss Me, Kate, because the music is so beautiful and there are themes in them that I like exploring as we evolve as a society. Now, we've come so far with women's rights, and so a scene that an audience would have seen 30 years ago is going to be translated completely differently now. That's the biggest thing I'm looking forward to in this revival. They've revamped some of the script and a lot of the music, so it'll be updated but still true to the original material.
Christine Cornish Smith (Susan Stripling, courtesy Polk & Co.)
DS: What do you love about playing Lois Lane/Bianca?
CS: It's very much a triple threat part—she gets to dance, act, and sing. I'm also excited to get to work with Kelli O'Hara. I've always looked up to her and she's been a great mentor to me.
DS: Is there anything you're nervous about?
CS: I'm nervous because I've never been an understudy before. I've always had my role or ensemble track, and that's all I've done. So I'm definitely nervous about having to possibly go on last-minute.
DS: What's the new choreography like?
CS: The reason I wanted to audition for this show originally is because Warren Carlyle was choreographing, and I've always loved his work. My first Broadway show was CATS, which was super–dance-heavy, and my second was My Fair Lady—there was hardly any dancing at all. This show feels like a happy medium of the two. There's quite a bit of dancing and it's a classic mix of musical theater/Broadway/jazz, which I really love.
A version of this story appeared in the February 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "This Revival Is Too Darn Hot."