Kiss Me Kate features the most famous on-stage spanking of all time. This musical version of The Taming of the Shrew has been performed continuously since its Broadway debut in 1948 (for "Shrew" a modern reading might be "Brat"). We do not know what production this still was taken from. [02/16/2008 update: A reader, fanz123, who has carefully examined pictures from numerous Kate productions, informs us that this one is from East Carolina University, and he sent us a wide-angle view of the spanking, which we have added below. Thanks fanz123! Interestingly, one of these photos must have been reversed, since Petruchio is spanking right-handed in one and left-handed in the other, but it hardly matters.]

For a look at some other Kates, visit The Spanking News. There are numerous productions mounted every year by colleges and community theatre groups, as well as occasional professional productions. Do yourself a favor and see it the next time it comes to your town.
Had Kiss Me Kate hit Broadway 8 or 10 years earlier it might well have been taken for a key marker on the road to artistic maturity for the stage musical. Because what are probably the two most important Rodgers and Hammerstein shows - Oklahoma! and Carousel -- had already broken the ground Kate was to subsequently travel over, it must be considered the less innovative show. (In fact, R and H went much further with the form than Kate did) Still, even apart from the well-deserved spanking, it's an excellent show with great Cole Porter songs.

Here is a playbill for the show. Although the movie version was somewhat different, Hollywood at least had enough sense to leave the spanking scene in, and seeing it became a fond childhood memory for many of us. Here's an interesting bit of trivia: the movie version did not use the song "Bianca", in which Cole Porter rhymed "Bianca" with "spank-a" - a 2nd spanking reference in the show!

Here is a still featuring the original stars Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison. Morison is a wonderfully bratty shrew, and Drake (who had also starred in Oklahoma!, by the way) is very determined to tame her by, among other methods, spanking! (Note: this picture is of better quality than it appears on this page. Save it and see for yourself.)

One of the interesting things about a well-done musical is that the book or straight play from which it is derived becomes largely forgotten. Hardly anyone now remembers Green Grow the Lilacs (Oklahoma!) or Liliom (Carousel). That's not really true with The Taming of The Shrew, of course, since it was written by William Shakespeare. But even here, the musical's influence is so great, and its spanking scene so memorable, that it has affected the way we think of the original. Although Shakespeare somehow forgot to put a spanking in his version, look at this cover of a respected edition of the play, and what do you see? The spanking!

02/28/2008 update: Chross recently posted the largest collection of "Kate" photos we have ever seen (and we've spent an awful lot of time researching both spanking and musicals). More are promised, together with video clips. Check them out!

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