Kiss Me Kate: 1971

1971 might have been quite an ordinary year in Kiss Me Kate history if Samuel Spewack, the Ukrainian-American coauthor of the script, hadn’t gone and died on October 14. But what that leaves us to reflect is that Kiss Me Kate is more timeless than its creators. Productions continued regardless; Freds were kicked and Lillis were spanked. Though perhaps few found the experience so obviously distressing as Shelley Vice, seen here across Richard Robbins’ knee in the spring musical at North Eugene High School, Oregon:

Such is the range of student acting ability, however, that some Lillis seem to be distinctly underwhelmed by the experience. Take Sharon Shank, who seems to be suffering no particular outrage at the hands of Mark Schmiedebusch at Ottawa-Glandorf High School, Ohio:

And is that a smirk on the face of Cathy Morrison, in the May production at Los Altos High School, California?

Since she had five performances to get through, maybe Michael Taylor managed to do something about that!

At Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana, where the musical played for only three performances (April 29 to May 1), Nanette Grims seems to better understand the unenviability of her upturned position as Philip Clary’s palm is about to descend on her posterior:

May 12-17 saw a production at the Dineh Little Theatre in Gallup, New Mexico, publicized a month in advance with this plainclothes ‘lesson in manners’ from Doug Smole to Jean Sipe:

And according to the local newspaper, the spanking became progressively more realistic as the rehearsals went on, to the extent that one cast member laid 4-1 odds that Jean wouldn’t survive to see the first night!

At Amsterdam, New York, Marilyn DeRocco shows appropriate consternation at her position across Jack Gennett’s knee:

Here’s a tabletop effort in the spring musical at Farmington High School, Michigan, with Gregory Steele’s Fred spanking Deb Watson’s Lilli:

For a more conventional OTK, let’s go to York High School in Yorktown, Virginia, where KMK was the spring musical. George Hudgins played Fred and the dubious honor of being spanked by him was shared on alternate performances between Sherry Stitt and Marilou Kelly. I think the photo shows Sherry…

Since I’m a sucker for panic and waving legs, I guess that means I’m also a sucker for Joyce Weston and the spanking Rod Eckberg gave her at Northern Montana College from June 24 through 29:

Lilli didn’t have a good time in Green Bay, Wisconsin, either, when the musical played there in August. Here’s a sign of tension between Calvin Rice and Louise Schock:

As both Lilli and Kate, Louise ‘leaps into both roles with gusto’, said a reviewer. So here’s some gusto:

In Lebanon, Oregon, Albany Civic Theater staged the musical for seven performances between October 1 and 9. Here’s Lynn Gerry being spanked by Newt Maples:

For the last spanking of the year, we go to New Zealand, where the Motueka Dramatic and Operatic Society staged Kiss Me Kate November 6-9. Here’s David Lewis showing Brenda Bakie who’s boss:

And with that, we pass on to another year.

2 thoughts on “Kiss Me Kate: 1971

  1. Ah! 1971 the year I graduated from high school. These Lilli’s have more of their legs covered up than they probably did at any other time that year. Hemlines were much higher than the approval rating for the ongoing involvement of the U.S. in the Vietnam War. Proof of the high, early ’70s, hemline can be found in that fairly well-known photo of Patty Cohenour during a rehearsal (or photo shoot) for a 1970 high school production. Also, many of these ladies have the popular straight and long hair style that I remember so well. My own high school had performed Kiss, me Kate as the spring play in the mid-sixties so I was out of luck witness wise. Thanks for posting these nice pictures.


  2. jimc says:

    Like Sweetspot I graduated high school in 1971 and i enjoy your selections for this series. Alas while my high school did have scenes from Taming of the Shrew it was the single swat in response to the line about where a wasp keeps it sting. I enjoyed the swat, but wished it had been otk. i really enjoy your commentary about the spankings and it is always great to see actors identified as in a way that it why they became actors in the 1st place. It does make me wonder though if any of these actors ever did remain in the scene as it was (spanking) or it was just a role. Thanks for all you share and have a great day.


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