The Girl In Pink Tights – Original Broadway Cast 1954
The scene is New York City, just after the close of the Civil War. New Yorkers are excited about the promised opening of a French ballet company at the Academy of Music (“That Naughty Show from Gay Paree”), but Lotta Leslie (Brenda Lewis) is not so interested: the ballet is opening just across the street from Niblo’s Garden, which she operates, and she has only a lurid melodrama called “Dick the Renegade” to offer in competition. The play was written by Clyde Hallam (David Atkinson), a veteran of the War. When the ballet troupe arrives, led by Lisette Gervais and Maestro Gallo (Jeanmaire and Charles Goldner), Clyde at once falls in love with Lisette (“Lost in Loveliness”). The Maestro explains that his girls, far from being loose women, although they appear in tights, are actually delicate young ladies (“I Promised Their Mothers”) and begins a flirtation with Lotta. Clyde and Lisette find that the course of true love is far from smooth, arguing and making up, and even making a visit to Battery Park to take a ride on the new El (“Up in the Elevated Railway”) during which they decide nothing would be sweeter than to be “In Paris and in Love.” The Maestro, however, feels that Lisette is making a mistake in giving away her heart, and that she should concentrate on her career as a dancer. When she is fifty she will have time for love. Lisette sneaks away from her rehearsal to watch a run-through of Clyde’s play across the street, and Lotta explains the perils of theatrical production (“You’ve Got To Be a Little Crazy”). The Maestro arrives and orders Lisette back to her own rehearsal, and she goes unwillingly (“When I Am Free To Love”). At the ballet rehearsal, the Maestro is experimenting with a few unusual stage effects, and some gunpowder explodes, setting fire to the Academy. The Volunteer Firemen and the Fire Department arrive (“Out of the Way!” / “Roll Out the Hose, Boys!”) but are unable to save the building. Lisette, locked in her room, is in danger of being burned to death, but Clyde climbs a ladder and carries her to safety. However, the ballet troupe has now lost its theater, and, for lack of funds, must return to France, steerage. Clyde comes to bid farewell to Lisette at the dock (“My Heart Won’t Say Goodbye”), but before the troupe can leave, Lotta arrives with the news that she has persuaded a man-about-town to finance a new idea she has just had: the combination of the ballet troupe with Clyde’s melodrama, for which she has very dim hopes, thus producing a play with music, something entirely new in the theater! The Maestro assents, and everyone agrees to try the experiment (“We’re All in the Same Boat”). Rehearsals proceed with considerable difficulty, since Clyde, in true author style, resents any changes in his manuscript; the Maestro has suggested combining Clyde’s frontier drama with the Faust legend, among other things. Almost the only ones who see eye to eye are Lotta and the Maestro (“Love Is the Funniest Thing”), and Lisette and Clyde quarrel constantly about which is more important: the play or the ballet. At length, Lisette goes off in a fit of anger to a rendezvous with the man-about-town at the Hotel Brevoort. Clyde breaks into the room, furious, but is immediately floored by a single blow from his rival, and Lisette flees. On opening night, Clyde, with a black eye, swallows his pride and returns to the theater just in time for the performance, and the show goes on, to enormous success, which naturally solves everyone’s problems. Included in the performance is a brilliantly foolish finale, incorporating a formal French garden at the time of Cardinal Richelieu (“The Cardinal’s Guard Are We”), bits and pieces of the Faust legend, a ballet involving bats, and Clyde’s woolly melodrama. There are also skyrockets, pinwheels, a waving American flag, and Lisette clad in tights and a Civil War cap. Note; The source of the idea for The Girl in Pink Tights is a short paragraph in A History of the New York Stage (T. Allston Brown, 1903), describing the incorporation of a stranded ballet troupe into a production of The Black Crook (set in the Harz Mountains of Germany, circa 1600), resulting in what is considered to have been America’s first musical comedy.
– Notes from the original Columbia Masterworks album
Lotta Leslie: Brenda Lewis Maestro Gallo: Charles Goldner Lisette Gervais: Jeanmaire Clyde Hallam: David Atkinson Volodya Kuzentsov (Lisette’s dance partner): Alexandre Kalioujny Music by Sigmund Romberg, adapted by Don Walker Lyrics by Leo Robin Book by Jerome Chodorov and Joseph Fields Choreography by Agnes De Mille Musical Director: Sylvan Levin