On The Town
Overview | Publications | Scores | Working Notes
One of Betty Comden's ideas for a scene in On the Town was Nedicks in Times Square, taken from her preliminary notes.
Betty Comden jotted down notes about possible New York settings for various scenes in On the Town, adding some charming doodles in the margins.
Betty Comden, who co-wrote the book for On the Town with Adolph Green, jotted down a list of principles that would guide the creation of the production. The fourth point reads: "As much humor as possible--satire--slapstick with corn...."
From Betty Comden's preliminary notes for On the Town: "7:00 at Fulton Fish Market" (a downtown Manhattan landmark).
From the complete score for On the Town, Bernstein created a set of Three Dance Episodes for orchestra. He wrote these program notes for the premiere performances he conducted with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in February of 1946:
"It seems only natural that dance should play a leading role in the show, On the Town, since the idea of writing it arose from the success of the ballet, Fancy Free. I believe this is the first Broadway show ever to have as many as seven or eight dance episodes in the space of two acts; and, as a result, the essence of the whole production is contained in these dances. I have selected three of them for use as a concert suite. That these are, in their way, symphonic pieces rarely occurs to the audience actually attending the show, so well integrated are all the elements, thanks to George Abbott's direction, the choreographic inventiveness of Jerome Robbins, and the adroitness of the book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
"The story is concerned with three sailors on 24-hours leave in New York, and their adventures with the monstrous city which its inhabitants take so much for granted.
"In the Dance of the Great Lover, Gaby, the romantic sailor in search of the glamorous Miss Turnstiles, falls asleep in the subway and dreams of his prowess in sweeping Miss Turnstiles off her feet.
"In the Pas de Deux Gaby watches a scene, both tender and sinister, in which a sensitive high-school girl in Central Park is lured and then cast off by a worldly sailor.
"The Times Square Ballet is a more panoramic sequence in which all the sailors in New York congregate in Times Square for their night of fun. There is communal dancing, a scene in a souvenir arcade, and a scene in the Roseland Dance Palace."