London 2012

London is poised in anticipation of a mighty spectacle that is about to descend upon it…

Alex Bourne and Hannah Waddingham in Kiss Me Kate

I’m referring of course to the major new production of Kiss Me Kate that will hit the West End this autumn. (Oh well, at least the traffic should be back to normal by then).

Directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, the show is in the middle of a warm up season at Chichester and has attracted lots of favourable press coverage. Apparently Nunn is a life-long fan after watching the MGM film, starring Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson, as a teenager:

I emerged from the Ritz Cinema that evening intoxicated with the certainty that the life of the theatre, onstage and off, was the only life I wanted to lead.

He went on to direct a student production of Taming of the Shrew at university while he was engaged to his Kate:

My student Katherine was my fiancée – an engagement fated not to last beyond us moving into the real world. Then, a few years later, The Taming of the Shrew was the first Shakespeare I was given to direct by Peter Hall for the RSC. Perhaps some would say it was by then predictable, but I married my brilliant Kate [Janet Suzman], a year later. So, I suppose I am something of an authority on how onstage life in The Shrew can influence what happens offstage, and vice versa.

I have now directed 30 of Shakespeare’s plays, and 20 musicals; so directing Kiss Me, Kate, the Shakespeare musical, could be described as inevitable.

Hannah Waddingham

As his latest Kate, Nunn has cast the formidable Hannah Waddingham – “a bodice-burster built like Boudicca” – while Alex Bourne plays her sparring partner. So far we only have a picture of the couple in a fireman’s lift pose (see top), but some of the reviews have mentioned the spanking scene:

Mr Bourne, a burly presence and a powerful voice, is perfect. This Fred could be from a silent movie-era Robin Hood. Disaster unfolds but Fred flashes insistent smiles at his audience – even while giving Lilli’s bottom a spanking.

If anyone reading this has seen the Chichester production please leave a comment below and let us know if Hannah’s taming was to your satisfaction or not.

Kiss-Me-Kate-Vanessa-Ballam-and-Kyle-Pfortmiller6

I couldn’t do a post about KMK without a bit of actual spanking so here’s a very fine new publicity still for another production that has only just opened, this time in Utah. Harry found it and he tells me that the actress, Vanessa Ballam, was Miss Utah in 1999.