Plot


Act One

In 1948, a theater company are preparing for the opening night of a new musical based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew at the Ford Theatre in Baltimore (“Another Op’nin’, Another Show”). They are led by impresario Fred Graham who is not only directing and producing the show, but also starring as the romantic lead Petruchio. Controversially he has hired his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi to perform opposite him as the ‘shrew’, Katherine. Both claim to have moved on--Fred is pursuing the young actress Lois Lane, who is playing Katherine’s sister Bianca, and Lilli is recently engaged to war veteran General Harrison Howell. Meanwhile Lois’s other love interest Bill Calhoun, who has the part of Lucentio, has gotten into trouble while gambling with Baltimore gangsters, and has signed an IOU for $10,000, using Fred’s name instead of his own (“Why Can’t You Behave”).

Despite Lilli and Fred’s constant bickering, as they reminisce together in their dressing room, it becomes clear that the estranged couple still have feelings for each other (“Wunderbar”). When two gangsters show up at the theatre to collect the debt from Fred he claims to have never signed the IOU and so they leave, giving him time to ‘remember’. When a bouquet of flowers from Fred is delivered to Lilli’s dressing room, she realises that she is still deeply in love with him (“So in Love”). However, little does she know that the flowers were in fact intended for Lois. Despite Fred’s efforts to keep the card away from Lilli, she takes it on the stage with her to read later.

The performance of The Taming of the Shrew begins (“We Open in Venice”). Baptista refuses to allow his younger daughter Bianca to marry until his older daughter Katherine has married first. However, Katherine is shrewish and bad tempered, and not ready to marry anyone. Three suitors-- Lucentio, Hortensio, and Gremio--try to seduce Bianca, and she likes them all (“Tom, Dick, or Harry”). Petruchio, a good friend of Lucentio, has

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