The Kissing Dance

Based on Oliver Goldsmith’s play She Stoops to Conquer, The Kissing-Dance is a tale of match-making, mischief and misunderstanding, dished out with a good helping of disguise and deceit…

The sage shall play the knave tonight,
The maid shall misbehave tonight
And all the world, it’s said, Will turn upon its head …..

It is All Fools’ Eve, a night when in the realms of love, the world can be turned upside-down and the lord of Misrule can take control. In the great hall at Nonesuch, home to the Hardcastle family (old campaigner Mr Dick Hardcastle, his formidable wife, Dorothy, their pretty and sharp-witted daughter Kate, her equally clever cousin, Constance Neville and the mischievous Tony Lumpkin, Dorothy’s son by her first marriage), the servants are preparing to receive two important guests: an old friend of Mr Hardcastle’s from his military days, Sir James Marlow, and travelling separately, his eligible son Charles. Both fathers are hoping that Charles will offer his hand in marriage to Kate and unite the two families forever. But unbeknown to them, Charles suffers from the mysterious affliction of “the Englishman’s Malady”. While gallivanting amongst working-class girls “who wait at tables”, he is a notorious womaniser, but when confronted with girls “of his own station”, he is plagued by an unaccountable reserve and modesty which turn him into a tongue-tied idiot. Charles has a problem: he is on his way to meet his intended, Miss Kate Hardcastle, but knows that the presence of polite female company will render him painfully shy and speechless. He is nonetheless riding to Nonesuch with his great friend George Hastings (who also happens to be courting Kate’s cousin Constance) and all goes well until they lose their way and stop at the “Fur and Feathers” to ask for directions…..

The Kissing-Dance – another of Howard’s collaborations with Charles Hart (lyricist) – was completed in 1998. The musical was premièred by the National Youth Music Theatre at the Brighton Festival that year, and went on to play in Kendal and at the Edinburgh Festival. Its London debut was at the Lyric, Hammersmith, in February 1999. Over the Christmas & New Year period of 1999/2000 The Kissing-Dance was the first full-length production to grace the stage of the new Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In March & April 2011 a highly successful sell-out run of The Kissing Dance was staged at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London.  Guardian review (Lyn Gardner) can be found here. BroadwayWorld review is here.  GarethJames’ blog review is here. rageoffstage review here. extra!extra! review here.  Kissing-Dance YouTube Channel can be reached here.

The Kissing Dance poster 2Mrs Hardcastle, The Kissing Dance

Key information:

Text: Charles Hart (lyricist)

Première: 1998, Brighton Festival: National Youth Music Theatre

Availability: Performance materials on hire from Faber Music (, rights licensed by Faber Music Copyright Dept (