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Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company opens its first-ever American musical today at its home theater in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The company's revival of "Kiss Me, Kate," the Cole Porter musical based on "The Taming of the Shrew," is budgeted at $1.91 million. The classically oriented troupe's creative team believes "Kate" is appropriate because of its play-within-a-play plot of backstage bickering at a performance of "The Taming of the Shrew." "It's not just any musical; it's literate," director Adrian Noble said. "We were looking to take a big American period masterpiece and, if you like, examine it from our point of view, with our normal principles of production." After a national tour, "Kate" will play in London at the Old Vic beginning May 8, and productions are planned for later in the year in Toronto and New York.

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