American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Kiss Me Kate Lyric Sheet

Brush up Your Shakespeare
Cole Porter (1891-1964)
"Brush up Your Shakespeare,"
from Kiss Me, Kate, 1948
Holograph lyric sheet
Cole Porter Collection, Music Division (17)

Perhaps his greatest success, Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate was another musical adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. It opened at the Century Theatre in New York City on December 30, 1948, to enthusiastic public and critical response and ran for 1,077 performances. The production won five Tony Awards, including "Best Musical," in 1949. One of the many notable songs was "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," with lyrics typical of Porter's brilliant wit. The song is performed by two gangster characters who blunder out in front of the curtain and feel obliged to perform. Porter work was the result of careful craftsmanship and extraordinary care taken to achieve just the right setting, as this sheet of rough lyric possibilities makes clear.

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