Kiss Me, Kate: Picking Our Fred/Petruchio
Yesterday, Roundabout Theatre Company announced that it would be reviving Kiss Me, Kate in February of 2019, starring Tony winner Kelli O’Hara is the role of the shrewish Lily/Kate. Though it is still quite a long way off, I thought it would be fun to speculate on possible Freds/Petruchios who would be fun to see opposite Ms. O’Hara. Here are my thoughts and I’d love to know any ideas you may have as well.
There is not much that Andy Karl cannot do, from his tour-de-force performance in the musical Groundhog Day, to his more-comedic turns in revivals of On the Twentieth Century and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In fact, Karl even brought a great deal of heart to portraying the title character in the musical Rocky. He is talented, sexy, funny, and would certainly bring the braggadocio and swagger to make a delightful Fred/Petruchio.
As time goes on, I continue to be delightfully surprised at how versatile Will Chase is. He has done everything from serious roles in Billy Elliott, Aida and Rent, to star comedy turns in musicals such as Something Rotten!, and my personal favorite, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. There are so many possibilities of where Chase would take Fred/Petruchio, but with his resume to back this suggestion up, I am convinced his would be a finely-textured interpretation.
Steven Pasquale was fantastic when he played the cocksure title character in Roundabout Theatre Company’s near-perfect production of The Robber Bridegroom a few seasons back. He sang the role with a masculine power and comedic timing that would be perfect for Fred/Petruchio. Though he is often mistaken for a serious romantic lead, Pasquale has a deft comedic timing that shape Fred/Petruchio into one funny, bravura comedic performance.
Any time that Douglas Sills graces a Broadway show, he shines and so does the production. It seems we should see a lot more of the guy considering how much audiences enjoy him. He was the one saving grace of the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel, a role Sills injected with wit and depth, overcoming the show’s shortfalls in its writing. If Sills can make a success out of a cipher of a role, imagine what he could do with one as well-written as Fred/Petruchio?
Nowadays, Christian Borle seems to be the go-to when looking for a musical comedy lead. Certainly, his work in recent years such as Peter and the Starcatcher and Something Rotten! have led to Tony Awards, and his star turns in Falsettos and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory keep him in demand. He is good at playing comedic, puffed-up, macho types, so we know he has it in him to play our chauvinistic Fred/Petruchio.
Norbert Leo Butz
Two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can) has evolved from male ingénue into a terrific comedic lead-type in the last decade or so. He is always larger-than-life, his timing is always spot-on, and he sings his roles with a lot of verve and enthusiasm. Surely these skills add up to one very funny, over-the-top, Fred/Petruchio?
Brian Stokes Mitchell
Of course, we could just bring back Brian Stokes Mitchell in his Tony winning performance as Fred/Petruchio. Mitchell gave a deliciously devilish performance as the self-absorbed actor/director opposite the exquisite Marin Mazzie. If you didn’t see it the first time around (he earned his Tony just for his saucy take on “Where Is the Life that Late I Led?” alone) you would have a second chance for this run. This is rather unlikely to happen, but we know he can do it.