Based on the Stephen Longstreet’s 1946 novel The Sisters Liked Them Handsome, HIGH BUTTON SHOES concerns the comic entanglements of the Longstreet family with two New Jersey con men in 1913. A highlight of the show is the uproarious Bathing Beauty Ballet that opens Act Two, choreographed by Jerome Robbins to the number, On A Sunday By The Sea. The ballet also incorporates snippets of classical music by Franz Liszt and Jacques Offenbach, to create a grand tribute to silent-movie comedy.
As the con men Floy and Pontdue are pursued to the Atlantic City beach while carrying a satchel full of stolen money, the people on the beach dance around them (“The Bathing Beauty Ballet”). They tangle with a large number of people—including bathing beauties, lifeguards, other criminals, identical twins—and one gorilla. The climax occurs when the Keystone Cops arrive, and Floy loses everything when he bets on the wrong football team.
HIGH BUTTON SHOES
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Book by Stephen Longstreet
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:
HIGH BUTTON SHOES
is presented by arrangement with
MusicScope & Stage Musicals Ltd. of New York
INSTRUMENTATION: 17 PARTS
2 Violin AC
1 Violin BD
1 Oboe (and optional English Horn)
1 Reed I: Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed II: Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed III: Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Trumpets I & II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
Timpani (1 or 2 Drums)
Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
Hi-Hat Cymbals (optional)
Temple Blocks (2 pitches)
French Auto Horn
Fran (Mama’s Sister)
Sarah Longstreet (Mama)
Townspeople, Football Players, Ladies Bird Watching Society, Singers and Dancers
HIGH BUTTON SHOES opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre, October 9, 1947. It later moved to the Shubert Theatre and the Broadway Theatre, playing for a total of 727 performances starring Phil Silvers and Nanette Fabray.
The Tony Award for Choreography (Robbins)