Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Kiss Me, Kate: MTSU play gives strong testament to theatre program quality


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Photo courtesy of Gina E. Fann via MTSU News

Story by Toriana Williams / Contributing Writer 

Middle Tennessee State University’s production of the classic Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate filled the seats in Tucker Theatre every night from October 24 to the 27.

Kiss Me, Kate, a musical written by Bella and Samuel Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, is about the on and off stage conflict between Fred Graham, the show’s director, producer, and star, and the leading lady, his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi, as they produced a musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew within the play itself.

A secondary romance took place with Lois Lane, the actress playing Bianca, and her boyfriend Bill who has a gambling problem. This results in a $10,000 debt, which he signs an IOU for with Fred Graham’s signature.

MTSU’s arts program did a fantastic job with their cast, their sets and the entire play itself. Kamryn Boyd, who played Lilli Vanessi/Katherine, truly brought a fiery display of character to life on stage. Boyd is a sophomore at MTSU, who’s been focused on her classical vocal training and Shakespearean character development to prepare for this play.

Kaleb Stone, who played Fred Graham, is a junior at MTSU and has welcomed the challenge of having to portray two characters on stage. He passionately displayed great skill while acting as Fred Graham/Petruchio, two characters who have similar mindsets but are different enough to be distinguishable.

“I really enjoyed the play! I thought it was a little sexist though, but I’m not sure if that was on purpose or it’s just dated,” said Emily Matlow, sophomore at MTSU.

Gender politics in Kiss Me, Kate and subsequently The Taming of the Shrew have been cast in a harsher light as the 71 year old play contradicts rising attitudes of gender equality. Despite this fact, the crowd was brought to their feet as they gave a standing ovation for the cast’s undeniably brilliant performance and stellar artistic prowess.

A complete list of the cast and crew is included in the official program, available here.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email

For more updates, follow us at, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.

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