On the Town

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Everyone who comes to New York City has different expectations and plans for their stay. ON THE TOWN is the tale of three sailors on a 24 hour leave from their ship docked in this fabulous city. Memorable musical numbers include Come Up to My Place, Lucky to Be Me, Some Other Time and New York, New York. It’s an uplifting, fun show with energy and verve.

Photo by Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

*Music samples courtesy of Jay Records and Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Brief History
  • ON THE TOWN is the story of a 24-hour adventure involving three sailors on leave from their ship. Meet Chip, Ozzie and Gabey, our all-American buddies ready to have as much fun as they can squeeze into a limited amount of time. Chip plans to see as much of the city as possible, and relies on an out-dated guide book his father lends him. Ozzie plans to meet a lot of girls, and kick up his heels. Gabey is the most serious of the three, and hopes to meet one special girl -New York, New York.
    The tone of the show is set when the boys enter a subway station and Gabey spots “Miss Turnstyle” of the month. He becomes infatuated by her pretty smile and glamorous description, and gives the three men a mission: in a city of 2.5 million women, find this billboard girl: Ivy Smith. As a policeman chases them because Gabey takes the billboard off the wall, the three split up and the fun begins. Gabey heads for Carnegie Hall where Ivy takes singing lessons, Ozzie heads toward the Museum of Modern Art where she studies painting, and Chip tries to find her through the marketing division of the subway that made her “Miss Turnstyle.”
    It’s no surprise that Chip becomes distracted from his search by a cab driver named Hildy Esterhazy, and Ozzie-who ends up in the wrong museum-is distracted by an engaged anthropology graduate student named Claire de Loon. In fact Ozzie is distracted enough to knock down a reconstructed dinosaur -Carried Away. As luck would have it, Gabey finally ends up at Carnegie Hall and actually finds Ivy -Lonely Town. She is standing on her head during a singing lesson, waiting for Madam Dilly, her instructor, to come back from a quick trip to buy some Scotch. Gabey makes plans to meet Ivy that night in Times Square, and meets Madam Dilly who doesn’t approve of Ivy spending her time with him.
    Ozzie ends up at Claire’s beautiful apartment, where they are unexpectedly interrupted by her naive fiance. Chip joins Hildy at her modest apartment, where he meets her roommate, Lucy. -Come Up to My Place and -I Can Cook Too. Gabey goes to Times Square to meet Ivy at the agreed upon time, but she never shows up -Lucky to Be Me. It seems on her way to meet Gaby, Ivy runs into Madam Dilly, who insists she go to work at Coney Island that night rather than waste her time with Gabey. Ready for their big night on the town, the three sailors are short one girl. So Hildy calls her roommate Lucy to join them.
    The first stop is Diamond Eddie’s where the five plan to meet up with Lucy. Unfortunately, she misunderstands where they are, and never makes it. The group does, however, run into Claire’s fiance, Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework, who gets stuck with the bill, as the five rush off to the Congacabana where they hope to find a livelier time. But the second club is also not upbeat enough, so the five rush off to a third club, the Slam-Bang, just as Pitkin arrives to meet them at the Congacabana -Ya Got Me. Again, Pitkin gets stuck with their bill, as well as stuck waiting for Lucy to show up. Slam-Bang ends up being a fun spot, but the group doesn’t stay to enjoy it. It turns out that Madam Dilly is there, and Gabey recognizes her. The music teacher tells Gabey where Ivy is working, so Gaby dashes out of the club to find her. His four friends race after him, this time leaving Pitkin with Lucy at Slam-Bang.
    Once on Coney Island Gabey finally finds Ivy. He is joined by his four friends, but before the group of six have a chance to relax, they are cornered by everyone they encountered during the past 20 hours; they are arrested. Pitkin finally wisens up, and doesn’t use his influence to keep the group out of jail. The next morning the three sailors are escorted by policeman back to their ship, and a new ship docks. A new crew of sailors prepares for their own 24 hour leave, and we all know their adventure will be enjoyable.

  • Music by Leonard Bernstein
    Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
    Based on an Idea by Jerome Robbins

  • Full Orchestration

    3 Violins
    1 Viola
    1 Cello
    1 Bass

    1 Flute (doubles on Piccolo)
    1 Oboe (doubles on English Horn)
    1 Clarinet I (doubles on E-flat Clarinet)
    1 Clarinet II (doubles on Alto Saxophone)
    1 Clarinet III (doubles on Bass Clarinet)

    1 Horns I & II
    1 Trumpet I & II
    1 Trumpet III
    2 Trombone I & II
    1 Trombone III

    2 Percussion I & II (1 or 2 players)

    Timpani
    Snare Drum
    Bass Drum
    Tom-Tom
    High-Hat
    Suspended Cymbal
    Cowbell
    Triangle
    Wood Blocks
    Castanets
    Tambourine
    Ratchet
    Slide Whistle
    Xylophone
    Glockenspiel
    Vibraphone

    1 Piano (and Celeste)

    Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.

  • 1       Piano Conductor’s Score
    1       Prompt Book
    9       Prompt Books for Principal Roles
    38     Dialogue Parts
    38     Chorus-Vocal Parts

  • ON THE TOWN played for 462 performances on Broadway at the Adelphi, Forty-Fourth Street, and Martin Beck Theatres starring Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Nancy Walker. It was revived on Broadway in 1971 at the Imperial Theatre, and again in 1998 at the George Gershwin Theatre with Lea DeLaria as Hildy.