In 1893 Paris, La Môme Pistache, the proud owner of a Montmartre dancehall, battles with Aristide Forestiere, a self-righteous judge determined to close all establishments featuring the scandalous cancan. Eventually, the two fall in love, and the judge concedes that “obscenity is in the eye of the beholder.”


CAN-CAN is a songfest about Paris in 1893 and some of its more Bohemian citizens. Aristide Forestier, a young, newly-appointed and over-zealous magistrate, decides to undertake a reform movement. The first case before him is a charge against some young women that their dance, the cancan, has violated the Paris morals code. Acting with the unique wisdom of the French, the chief judge dismisses the case because all of the witnesses seem suddenly to have had cinders in their eyes when the crime was committed and so cannot testify. Aristide goes to Montmartre to investigate the matter personally.

He gets his evidence but in the process falls in love with La Môme Pistache, the cafe proprietress. In the Montmartre we meet, Claudine, the principal dancer of the cancan palaces, Boris Adzinidzinadze, the temperamental artist whom she supports, and Hilaire Jussac, the art critic with whom Boris fights an uproariously funny duel. Aristide ends up in a police scandal which gets him disbarred. He confesses his love for Pistache, leaves the law to the courts, and joins her in teaching others how to do the CAN-CAN.

The show contains the famous Garden Of Eden Ballet, and such entrancing Cole Porter songs as C’est Magnifique, I Love Paris, Allez-Vous-En, and Can-Can flow logically from the context of the story

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Abe Burrows
Produced for the Broadway Stage by
Feuer and Martin

Such credits to the authors for all purposes shall be in type size equal to or greater than that of any other credits except for that of the star(s) above the title. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.

The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:

is presented by arrangement with
MusicScope & Stage Musicals Ltd. of New York

Full Orchestration:

2 Violin AC (doubles Accordion)
1 Violin BD
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass

1 Reed I: Flute, Piccolo & Clarinet
1 Reed II: Oboe & English Horn
1 Reed III: Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed IV: Flute & Clarinet
1 Reed V: Clarinet & Bassoon

1 Horn I & II
1 Horn III
1 Trumpet I & II
1 Trombone (and optional Euphonium)

1 Percussion:

Timpani (2 Drums)
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Tom Toms (2)
Suspended Cymbal
Hi-Hat Cymbals
Tam Tam
Bell Plate
Temple Blocks (3)
Triangles (Large & Small)
Wood Block
Slide Whistle
Bird Whistle
Dog Bark Sound
Bottle Crash Sound

1 Guitar
Piano-Celeste (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material)

(In order of appearance)
Judge Paul Barriere
Court President, Henri Marceaux
Judge Aristide Forestier
Hilaire Jussac
Boris Adzinidzinadze
La Mome Pistache
Second Waiter
Café Waiter
Café Customer

CAN-CAN played for 892 performances on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre starring Lilo, Hans Conried, Peter Cookson, Erik Rhodes and Gwen Verdon.

Awards (1954)

2 Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress and Choreography
The Theatre World Award for outstanding stage performance by Gwen Verdon