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Having just arrived in Padua from Verona, Petruchio and his servant Grumio stand at Hortensio's front door. When Petruchio says "Here, sirrah Grumio; knock, I say," Grumio thinks he is being asked to slap his master. Not wanting to get beat down, Grumio refuses to do this. The pair go round and round and Grumio continues to misinterpret Petruchio's order for him to knock on the door.
Petruchio finally gets fed up and twists Grumio's ears until the old man falls to his knees. Just then, Hortensio opens the door and is surprised to see his old pal Petruchio beating up on an old servant.
Petruchio and Hortensio greet each other in Italian, which Grumio mistakes for Latin. Grumio whines to Hortensio that Petruchio is a big meanie and says he should quit his job because he was punished for refusing to pummel his master.
Petruchio explains that Grumio is an idiot because he asked the servant to knock on the door, not to knock him upside the head. Grumio continues to grumble and Petruchio says he's about to get knocked out if he doesn't zip it.
Hortensio tells Petruchio to chill out and asks his buddy what brings him to Padua.
We learn that Petruchio's dad recently died and left Petruchio a nice little inheritance. Wanting to fatten up his bank account some more, Petruchio has come to Padua to bag a rich wife.
Hortensio jokes that he knows the perfect woman – a super rich shrew named Katherine.
Petruchio says that sounds awesome because he's all about money – "wivin' and thrivin'" is his motto. His wife can be ugly, old, and/or shrewish – it really doesn't matter to him because money = happiness.
Hortensio says he was just joking around, but since Petruchio insists, he'll be a good pal and will help to hook him up with Kate. He warns Petruchio again and says that he personally wouldn't marry Kate for all the money in the world.
When Petruchio finds out that his dead dad knew Kate's dad, he decides he wants to hustle on over to Kate's house for a chat with her old man. Hortensio tags along so he can hit on Bianca.
Hortensio explains that he will dress up as a private tutor and he wants Petruchio to present him as a "gift" to Kate's dad. That way, Petruchio can get in good with Baptista and Hortensio can make sweet love to Bianca in secret.
At that moment, Gremio and Lucentio (disguised as Cambio) happen along. Gremio brags that he has hired Cambio as a gift for Baptista.
Gremio has no idea that Cambio is really Lucentio (who also wants Bianca) as he explains that Cambio should only teach Bianca from books of love poetry, which will be doused in perfume to get Bianca in the mood for some lovin'.
Lucentio (disguised as Cambio) tells Gremio that he will talk to Bianca on Gremio's behalf and will woo her even better than Gremio. Petruchio's servant Grumio comments under his breath that Gremio is a total chump (we would have to agree).
Gremio and Lucentio talk some trash until Lucentio says he has good news for both of them – his old pal Petruchio is in town and wants to marry Kate.
Gremio can't believe his ears and worries that Petruchio doesn't know what he's getting himself into. Petruchio tells them not to worry – he's the shrew-taming king. This sounds good to Gremio and Hortensio, who promise to reimburse Petruchio for any money he has to spend while he woos Kate, so long as he marries her.
Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) arrives on the scene and asks for directions to Baptista's house, which worries Petruchio and Gremio because they don't want any more competition.
The suitors bicker amongst themselves until they agree that, if Tranio wants in on the deal, he will have to pony up some cash to help cover Petruchio's expenses. Tranio agrees.
That settled, the guys decide they should hang out together over dinner and some cocktails.