It is with the greatest of pleasure that this column announces, in a dither of vernal gaiety that Mr. Dwight Wiman has brought to the Shubert Theatre one of the very best musical comedies in many a pasteboard moon. It's called "On Your Toes" and if it falls to hang the S. T. O. talisman outside its New York queue, George Joan Nathan is Pollyanna's brother.
Bolger, Gear Star
The whole production bristles with talented contributions which stager Worthington Miner has welded into a highly animated, pleasingly smooth and sure-paced vehicle for the bright talents of Ray Bolger, Luella Gear, Tamara Geva, Doris Carson, Monty Woolley and a galaxy of well constructed demoiselles. The book represents the combined efforts of Messrs. George Abbott and the skilful team of Rodgers and Hart who have also supplied it with a variety of tuneful and well-worded songs. The accent is definitely on the dancing which has been supervised by George Balanchine, the eminent choreographer.
The general idea of "On Your Toes" is that there is something very amusing about the Russian ballet and there were very few in last night's audience who didn't think so by eleven o'clock. Phil Dolan, the third in a succession of hoofing Dolans, emerges as a very aesthetic music professor in a WPA extension university, but his basic urge for nimble footing of the jazzier sort will not be sublimated. With one of his pupils he creates a modern ballet which in a burst of inspiration they entitle "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." In attempting to get his opus staged Dolan becomes involved in the highly emotional group of Slavic ballet artists and many droll things ensue.
The high spots of the show are reached in the two big ballet scenes. The Princess Zenobia ballet interlude is about the funniest thing this playgoer has ever seen. Starting with a majestic and dramatic emulation of a heavy dance-drama it rises to a genuine pitch of satirical excellence. "The Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" ballet gives Mr. Bolger fine opportunity to demonstrate his terpsichorean genius and ends up in a screamingly funny bit of farce. This Bolger fellow hasn't a peer in soft-shoe dancing.
The Rodgers and Hart tunes are simple and melodious and it would not be surprising to find the air-waves congested with the strains of "It's Got to Be Love," On Your Toes" and the pleasing lilt of "Small Hotel." The Miolziner settings are superbly adjusted to the spirit of the show and are colorful and quite exciting.
"On Your Toes" has just about all it takes, but mostly it's got Mr. Bolger, which is high praise.