Adrian Dunbar to make West End musical debut in Kiss Me, Kate

Adrian Dunbar is to make his musical debut in the return of Kiss Me, Kate to the London stage.

The Line Of Duty actor, 65, will star alongside Tony Award-winning actress Stephanie J Block in the re-imagining of Cole Porter’s hit musical comedy about warring lovers.

The new production, which follows “backstage chaos and romantic entanglements” as a theatre company attempts to put on a production of William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew, will premiere at the Barbican Theatre from June 4 until September 14.

Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J Block
Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J Block to star in Kiss Me, Kate (PA)

With music and lyrics by Porter and based on the original book by Bella and Samuel Spewack, the new production will be directed by Bartlett Sher – who won a Tony award in 2008 for directing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.

Dunbar, who will star as character Fred Graham and Petruchio in the play-within-a-play, said “summer 2024 just got a lot brighter”.

“I’m so delighted to be returning to the stage this summer to my spiritual home at the Barbican – where I started my career at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama – especially in this Cole Porter classic with the wonderful creative team including Bart Sher and Stephanie J Block,” he said.

Block, who won a Tony for best actress in a leading role in a musical for The Cher Show in 2019, promised that Kiss Me, Kate “will most definitely not be just Another Op’nin, Another Show” – referencing the show’s classic opening track.

“Look, when asked to bring a Cole Porter classic to the Barbican stage under the care and vision of Bart Sher, one must say yes,” the 51-year-old, who will star as Lilli Vanessi and Katherine in the Shakespeare play, said.

“There are so many firsts to this opportunity, and at this stage of my career, firsts are not the norm.

“How wonderfully scary and challenging and thrilling. I cannot wait to dive into this timeless classic and put a fresh stamp on it alongside the incredible Adrian Dunbar.”

Stephanie J Block
Stephanie J Block won a Tony award for best actress in a leading role in a musical for The Cher Show in 2019 (PA)

The show will feature a “full-scale orchestra” and Porter classics such as Brush Up Your Shakespeare, Tom, Dick Or Harry and Too Darn Hot.

Set in 1940s Baltimore, the show follows the tempestuous relationship between actor-manager Fred Graham (Dunbar) and his leading lady and ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (Block).

British producer Sir Howard Panter said: “I’m delighted to be working with Adrian, Stephanie and Bart to bring this classic, hilarious golden-age musical comedy to the Barbican next summer.

“Cole Porter’s timeless masterpiece has everything you want: it’s fun, infectious and pure entertainment. This, like Anything Goes, will be the perfect summer treat for London audiences next year.”

The show first premiered in 1948 and won best musical at the Tony Awards a year later before scooping best revival of a musical in 2000.

The show makes its return to the West End after appearing at the London Coliseum in June 2018.

Tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday 19 January from