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‘A Chance for Stage Folks to Say "Hello"': Entertainment and Theatricality in Kiss Me, Kate

Robbins, Hannah M (2017) ‘A Chance for Stage Folks to Say "Hello"': Entertainment and Theatricality in Kiss Me, Kate. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

As Cole Porter’s most commercially successful Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate (1948) has been widely acknowledged as one of several significant works written during ‘the Golden age’ period of American musical theatre history. Through an in-depth examination of the genesis and reception of this musical and discussion of the extant analytical perspectives on the text, this thesis argues that Kiss Me, Kate has remained popular as a result of its underlying celebration of theatricality and of entertainment. Whereas previous scholarship has suggested that Porter and his co-authors, Sam and Bella Spewack, attempted to emulate Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (1943) by creating their own ‘integrated musical’, this thesis demonstrates how they commented on contemporary culture, on popular art forms, and the sanctity of Shakespeare and opera in deliberately mischievous ways. By mapping the influence of Porter and the Spewacks’ previous work and their deliberate focus on theatricality and diversion in the development of this work, it shows how Kiss Me, Kate forms part of a wider trend in Broadway musicals. As a result, this study calls for a new analytical framework that distinguishes musicals like Kiss Me, Kate from the persistent methodologies that consider works exclusively through the lens of high art aesthetics. By acknowledging Porter and the Spewacks' reflexive celebration of and commentary on entertainment, it advocates a new position for musical theatre research that will encourage the study of other similar stage and screen texts that incorporate themes from, and react to, the popular cultural sphere to which they belong.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.731526
Depositing User: Hannah M Robbins
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2018 10:16
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:03
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19002

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