Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Its too darn hot !

KISS ME KATE. I have enthused here about key musicals for me [musicals label] - A STAR IS BORN, THE BANDWAGON, ITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, LES GIRLS, LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT etc - so here is another addition. Sharing the acclaim with THE BANDWAGON for 1953s's most inventive musical is George Sidney's marvellous version of KISS ME KATE. No matter how many times one has seen it, and I have seen it quite a few, there is always something new going on, and the lyrics and performances still spellbind.

From that fabulous opening where Cole Porter (Ron Randall) has written a new score for a musical version of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" and those two egotistical now divorced (from each other) stars Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson arrive for a run-through of the songs. Then Ann-Miller turns up with her combo to deliver her knockout "Its Too Darn Hot", probably the best staged for the camera number ever, as she advances on the audience dancing all over the room. This was initially shot in 3D so objects keep being thrown at the camera. Lily (Grayson) fumes but decides to star in the production, as rehersals get underway.

Ann though is now seeing dancer Tommy Rall - marvellous to see her with someone who can dance and sing as well as she can, he is only one of the greatest dancers ever (as shown in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, MY SISTER EILEEN, where he and Fosse also dance up a storm, and his comedy cameo in FUNNY GIRL) - their numbers like "Why Can't You Behave" and "Always True To You In My Fashion" sparkle and are full of inventive moments. Then there's Ann's number "From This Moment On" with that fabulous trio of Rall, Bob Fosse and Bobby Van, and speciality dancers Carol Haney (whose "Steam Heat" by Fosse in THE PYJAMA GAME deserves a post of its own) and Jeanne Coyne (who went on to marry Gene Kelly).

Among the backstage incidents are the arrival of two comic gangsters Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore who have to collect an IOU signed by Keel, but actually done by Rall faking Keel's signature, its beyond hilarious when they have to appear on stage to prevent Lily leaving, as her cattle baron beau also turns up, and they sing "Brush Up Your Shakespeare". Keel's swagger is perfectly utilised in his numbers, with those amazing costumes, like "Where Is The Life That Late I Led", while Grayson's solo "I Hate Men!" amuses. Miller as Bianca the younger sister has to choose between her 3 beaus in "Tom Harry or Dick" as the boys in tights dance up a storm. Sheer delirium! So, maybe Porter's best and wittiest score, endlessly inventive numbers, a cast of sheer perfection - what's not to love! It is as marvellous as ON THE TOWN. Chalk up another success to MGM.

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