Kiss Me Kate

QUESTION:  Which of the following musicals was not inspired by a Shakespeare play?
A)  The Lion King
B)  West Side Story
C)  Spamalot
D)  My Fair Lady
ANSWER BELOW

The American Treasure Tour blog has spent some time exploring the famous people depicted in lithographs hanging in our Toy Box. Today, we are going to shift just a little bit to the right of them Specifically, to a collection of original watercolor paintings that depict Broadway Musicals. They were created by artist and theater lover John M. Savidge, and we have only a small representation of his works displayed currently, with the hope that more will be available to enjoy in the future.  The first plays performed on Broadway in New York City occurred in the 1750's. The city was small back then, so the theaters were located in what is now considered the financial district, down by Nassau Street. As the city grew over the years, the theater district moved. By the turn of the twentieth century it reached the location where it would remain to this day - between 42nd and 53rd Streets, surrounding Broadway. All forms of entertainment happened in these theaters, but they have become most closely associated with musicals over the years. Today's Savidge painting we would like to highlight is 1949's Kiss Me Kate.

Few would even try to challenge the statement that William Shakespeare is the greatest of all playwrights. Kiss Me Kate is the story of a stage production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and the behind-the-scenes dramas of the various actors performing the show-within-a-show. Released in 1949, it was Cole Porter's response to the hugely popular Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein - one of the most popular plays ever to be performed. Kiss Me Kate did quite well in its own right, and gave Oklahoma! a run for its money.  In 2015, the original Broadway recording of its soundtrack was placed on the prestigious Library of Congress' National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, artistic, and/or historical significance to American society and the nation's audio legacy."  Easily, one of the most recognizable songs from the show is Porter's classic "Too Darn Hot."

ANSWER:  C) Spamalot. That was inspired by the King Arthur story, which predates Shakespeare by a few hundred years. The Lion King is a loose adaptation of Hamlet, West Side Story takes the Romeo and Juliet storyline to a new level, and My Fair Lady is taken from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, which is a reinterpretation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.  Nobody said this stuff was easy!