Yale alumnus Cole Porter fêted with true-blue production of ‘Kiss Me, Kate’
Yale will pay tribute to alumnus composer and lyricist Cole Porter (B.A. 1913) on the centennial of his graduation from the University by presenting his popular musical “Kiss Me, Kate” in a concert version with an all-Yale cast and crew.
Porter’s riff on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” will have two performances on Saturday, Jan. 19, at University Theater, 222 York St., at 2 and 8 p.m. For ticket information see below.
This production of “Kiss Me, Kate” will kick off a year-long celebration of Cole Porter at Yale. Details about the centennial activities are forthcoming.
The true-blue production features a newly restored critical edition of the score, with original orchestrations which haven’t been heard since the 1948 Tony Award-winning show first ran on Broadway.
Led by renowned conductor David Charles Abell ’81, this production of “Kiss Me, Kate” features a full 40-piece orchestra, a cast of professional Yale alumni singers and actors, and an acoustic soundscape provided by onstage foley artists [the performers who historically supplemented live acoustic effects in film and radio], in the style of a live radio program being performed for a studio audience.
Abell is also the scholar responsible for creating the new edition of the “Kiss Me, Kate” score, an achievement made possible by support from the Cole Porter Trusts. It will be a landmark in American music publishing, marking the first time that one of the classic Broadway hits of the “Golden Era” gets treated with the same scholarly respect musicologists have traditionally reserved for the great European operas, contends Abell. He notes that very few of the great works of American musical theater are even intact, musically speaking.
“Historically, musical materials were considered as disposable as stage sets or costumes by the original producers of these works, with many scores and parts being lost or discarded over the years. So most conductors who set out to mount a classic musical of the past have to parse through conflicting and incorrect vocal scores, inaccurate libretti, and illegible, incomplete or conflicting orchestra parts,” says Abell.
The artistic staff and company of this “Kiss Me, Kate” includes a 40-year span of Yalies, from current students —who will make up the orchestra and musical ensemble and play small acting roles— to graduates at the top of their professions, among them Ethan Freeman ’81, well-known in the German-speaking world for his performances in musical theater; distinguished opera singer Sari Gruber ’93; and, taking a turn in the spotlight as the two gangsters who sing “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” playwright Christopher Durang MFA ‘74 and composer Bobby Lopez ‘97. All are volunteering their time and talent.
“Yalies love music, and they especially love Cole Porter. What better way to celebrate both Yale and Cole than by bringing together multiple generations, from seasoned pros to aspiring students, in a project where we can all learn from one another while creating something important?” says the show’s producer, Amber Edwards ’82.
Tickets, which are $30 ($15 for students) may be purchased from the Yale School of Music box office, which is located in the lobby of Sprague Hall at 470 College St., by phone at 203-432-4158 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or on the School of Music’s website.
Ticket sales will begin on Dec 14. For a complete cast list with bios and photos, email [email protected].