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166. ON YOUR TOES


Musical Comedy in Two Acts and Thirteen Scenes


Music And Book: Music by Richard Rodgers. Lyrics by Lorenz Hart. Book by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, and George Abbott. Orchestrations by Hans Spialek.

Choreography: By George Balanchine.

Production: Entire production under the supervision of Dwight Deere Wiman. Produced by Dwight Deere Wiman. Staged by Worthington Miner. Scenery by Jo Mielziner. Costumes by Irene Sharaff. Scenery built by Turner Scenic Construction Company and painted by Triangle Scenic Studio; costumes executed by Helene Pons Studio, Brooks Costume Company, Eaves Costume Company, and others.

Premiere: April 11, 1936, Imperial Theatre, New York. Conductor: Gene Salzer. Pianists: Edgar Fairchild and Adam Carroll. (Out-of-town preview: March 21, Shubert Theatre, Boston.)

Cast: Phil Dolan III, Ray Bolger; Frankie Frayne, Doris Carson; Vera Barnova, Tamara Geva; Peggy Porterfield, Luella Gear; Sergei Alexandrovitch, Monty Woolley; and others. Dancers: Demetrios Vilan, George Church, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ballet, 12 women, 8 men. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ensemble (tap), 13 women, 8 men.
TWO A DAY FOR KEITH (Act I, Scene 1): Sung and danced by Dave Jones, Ethel Hampton, and Tyrone Kearney.
THE THREE B'S (Act I, Scene 3): Sung and danced by Ray Bolger and ensemble.
THERE'S A SMALL HOTEL (Act I, Scene 5): Sung and danced by Doris Carson and Ray Bolger.
LA PRINCESSE ZENOBIA BALLET (Act I, Scene 8): Princesse Zenobia, Tamara Geva; Beggar, Demetrios Vilan; Old Prince, William Baker; Young Prince, George Church.
QUIET NIGHT (Act II, Scene 1): Sung by Earle McVeigh, danced by the tap ensembles.
ON YOUR TOES (Act II, Scene 2): Doris Carson, Ray Bolger, David Morris, tap and ballet ensembles.
SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE BALLET (Act II, Scene 4): Hoofer, Bolger; Strip Tease Girl, Geva; Big Boss, Church.

Note: 315 performances, followed by national tour. LA PRINCESSE ZENOBIA BALLET parodies the 'Oriental-style' ballet (such as Schéhérazade). In SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE, a narrative ballet within the play, a nightclub stripteaser and a hoofer fall in love; a rival arranges for the young man to be killed by a gangster, but the girl saves him. Although these two numbers are most frequently singled out by reviewers as the main dance numbers, photos show that dancers appeared throughout and that the title song was a large production number with full tap and ballet ensembles. At Balanchine's insistence, On Your Toes was the first Broadway musical to credit staged dances as choreography (a practice already customary in Europe), and is considered the first musical in which the dances were integrated into the plot, performed by dancers who were also dramatic characters. In choreographing for Broadway musicals, Balanchine often used ballet, tap, and ballroom steps, in combination and separately.

Other Productions: February 5, 1937, Palace Theatre, London, and April 19, 1937, London Coliseum ('dances' by Andy Anderson; 'ballets' by William Baker, 'based on the choreography by George Balanchine'). August 3, 1937, Jones Beach Stadium, Long Island ('additional choreography by Marjerie Fielding'). Broadway revival October 11, 1954, Forty-sixth Street Theatre, New York (out-of-town preview September 25, Shubert Theatre, New Haven). Broadway revival March 6, 1983, Virginia Theatre, New York (out-of-town preview December 19, 1982, Opera House, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.), with the 1968 version of SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE (including a cigarette sequence from the movie [186] not in the original stage version) and additional choreography by Peter Martins; tap sequences credited to Donald Saddler.

See also: 186   361  

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