We have seen that Kiss Me Kate puts a scripted spanking scene into a play that doesn’t have one, The Taming of the Shrew. But we have also seen that Shrew sometimes, though far from invariably, includes an unscripted spanking scene as a matter of long-standing stage tradition. So what happens when the Shrew production featured in Kiss Me Kate is already following that stage tradition?
The obvious and pleasing answer is… that Lilli Vanessi gets spanked twice!
And, yes, it really has happened. It may, indeed, be a venerable tradition in its own right: according to newspaper reports, Joy Turpin was ‘spanked hard twice’ by Hayes Gordon in the original Australian production back in 1952. I can’t show you either spanking, if there really were two, but here she is being smacked:
And here’s another moment that’s not a spanking, but isn’t entirely irrelevant either:
Whatever really happened in 1950s Australia, we’re on surer ground when we reach the 1992 production by the Community Theater Company of Easthampton on Long Island. Don Gettinger plays Fred, Jo Carney is Lilli, and the Shrew production features the customary wooing scene spanking when Petruchio is telling Kate she has no choice but to marry him:
After which Mr Graham perhaps feels the need to up the stakes a little when ensuring that Miss Vanessi gets what she’s been asking for – which means spanking her with something a little more fearsome than the palm of his hand:
There are several other cases where we come very close to a double spanking, but don’t quite make it. In 1982, for instance, at the South River High School, Edgewater, Maryland, Fred first takes her OTK to threaten her with the paddling of her life …
… then does it again to give it to her:
A disappointingly swift blackout there, but otherwise some pleasingly vigorous action!
There’s a similar pattern to the 2002 production by Broadhollow Players of New York. It’s not actually a spanking the first time round, but he does get her over the table:
The 2002 production at the Odyssey Academy of Rochester, New York, has a very exciting initial OTK. There’s no actual spanking, but keep watching for a smack after he tumbles her off, followed by some more terrific business with her face down on the table:
And the spanking is in the same vein:
Here’s what appears to be a slightly peculiar student exercise, with New Yorker Lauren E. Krauss playing Lilli in modern dress. What’s odd about is that Lilli gets smacked, then put across Fred’s knee and not spanked. So far, so familiar… but when it comes to the cue for the spanking, he just carries her off the stage:
It’s not just schools, students and amateur theater that give Kiss Me Kate a second spanking; it has happened in a high-end professional production too, at the 2008 Glimmerglass Opera Festival production at Cooperstown, New York. Yes, New York again! But in other respects we must expect the unexpected.
The show starred Brad Little as Fred and Lisa Vroman in an unconventional Shrew costume that seems to be channeling Batgirl:
At least it helps make up for some rather weak and awkward positioning for the spanking:
And it certainly didn’t offer the same degree of bottom protection as the usual full skirt and layers of petticoats.
But like the others featured in this article, the production had a second treat in store for us, and in an unaccustomed place. Because after Kate arrived at Petruchio’s house, hungry for her dinner, guess where she wound up…
That’s so much better than the first spanking – so hurrah for the Shrew/Kate Spanking Doppler Effect!