‘Slaughter’ on 55th Street: City Center’s Reprise of Rodgers and Hart’s On Your Toes Is a Semi-Triumph
Of all the hit Rodgers and Hart shows, only Pal Joey and On Your Toes—well, maybe A Connecticut Yankee—seem to be revivable. We know dozens of the songs from Jumbo, Babes in Arms, The Boys from Syracuse, By Jupiter and the rest, but we don’t know the shows, unless we think we can infer Babes in Arms from the Mickey and Judy movie version (which—thank you, M-G-M—managed to omit most of the sublime score, including “My Funny Valentine”).
Why has On Your Toes survived? Apart from the terrible movie from 1939, three years after the show, there was a Broadway revival in 1954 (a flop), and another one in 1983 (a hit, with Natalia Makarova as the Russian prima. Well, she was a Russian prima). And now the City Center’s Encores! series has unleashed it again, and we can confirm that it’s definitely not the dopey plot that keeps it turning up again and again—the backstage and on-stage antics of a Ballets Russes-like company don’t constitute a plot. Nor can the ups and downs of a pallid romance between an ex-Vaudeville hoofer and a sweet young thing of a wannabe songwriter hold your attention longer that it takes the two of them to sing the show’s biggest hit, “There’s a Small Hotel.” Read More