On the Town synopsis
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Libretto by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on an idea by Jerome Robbins
First performed: 1944 New York City, June 1944
The Brooklyn Navy Yard – 0600 hrs It is early morning. As workers arrive at the Navy Yard, three young sailors – Gabey, Ozzie and Chip – begin 24-hours’ shore leave. It’s their first visit to New York and they are full of excitement at what the day might bring.
A Subway Train in Motion On the way to Manhattan, Gabey spots a poster of Ivy Smith, the winner of that month’s ‘Miss Turnstiles’ contest, and immediately falls in love with her. He takes down the poster and is accused of vandalism by a fellow passenger, who calls for help. A chase ensues but the boys manage to escape.
A Diner Gabey, Ozzie and Chip decide to find Ivy, using clues from the poster. Before they split up they agree to meet that night at Nedick’s in Times Square.
Presentation of Miss Turnstiles Ivy receives the accolade of ‘Miss Turnstiles’ for June. The chase after the boys continues.
A Taxicab – 0900 hrs Chip's attempts to find Ivy fall at the first hurdle: Hildy, a streetwise girl cabbie. The chase gains momentum.
The Museum of Natural History Ozzie's search takes him to the prehistoric section of the Natural History Museum. Here he meets the young anthropologist, Claire de Loone, who is engaged to be married to Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework. She makes a pass at Ozzie. When a dinosaur skeleton crashes to the floor, they have to make a hasty escape. The chase gains further momentum.
The streets of New York – 1200 hrs Gabey wanders the streets of New York, feeling lonely and despondent.
A Corridor and Studio in Carnegie Hall Madame Maude P. Dilly, who is a little too fond of the Jack Daniel’s, gives Ivy a singing lesson, during which Gabey stumbles into the studio. He recognizes Ivy and asks her for a date. She agrees to meet him at Nedick’s at eleven o’clock.
Claire’s Apartment Claire introduces Ozzie to her fiancé.
Hildy’s Apartment Chip tries to reach Ivy by telephone, but is unsuccessful. He meets Hildy’s flatmate, Lucy Schmeeler who, despite her terrible cold, goes out when Hildy makes it clear that she wants to be alone with Chip.
Nedick’s Cocktail Bar, Times Square – 2300 hrs Gabey waits for Ivy at Nedick’s, elated at the prospect of meeting her. Ivy arrives, unseen by him. She has called in sick at work so that she can meet Gabey, but when Madame Dilly discovers what Ivy has done she threatens to expose Ivy to her boss. Ivy leaves without speaking to Gabey. Chip and Hildy appear, followed by Ozzie and Claire. Gabey’s friends attempt to pass the women off as Ivy Smith. Gabey, of course, is not fooled. Madame Dilly returns and hands Gabey a note from Ivy cancelling their date. Chip, Hildy, Ozzie and Claire decide to cheer him up, first at a dance contest, then on to the nightclubs.
Diamond Eddie’s Nightclub – 0000 hrs Diamond Eddie’s girls entertain the customers. The sailors, Claire and Hildy are shown to a table before the main act, Diana Dream, makes her appearance. Pitkin arrives in time to pick up the bill before the party leaves for the Congacabana.
The Congacabana Hildy interrupts the club’s star act, Dolores Dolores. Pitkin again arrives in time to pick up the bill before the party leaves for the next nightclub.
The Slam Bang Club The group encounters Madame Dilly. Gabey discovers that Ivy is working on Coney Island and rushes off. His friends follow. Pitkin is left once again to pay the bill. Gabey’s blind date, Lucy Schmeeler, finally arrives. Remarkably, the chase has not lost momentum.
The Subway Train to Coney Island – 0300 hrs Gabey takes the subway in search of Ivy.
The Dream Coney Island In a dream sequence Gabey imagines marrying Ivy, and having to leave her to go to war.
Another Subway Train to Coney Island As they try to catch up with Gabey, his four friends realize how little time they’ve had together.
The Real Coney Island Rajah Bimmy drums up customers for his exotic dance show in which Ivy is performing. Gabey and Ivy are finally united. Hildy, Chip, Ozzie and Claire catch up with him, along with the members of the chase. Pitkin has the boys arrested.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard – 0600 hrs It is early morning. The police return the boys to their ship. As they bid farewell to the girls, three more sailors set off for the city in search of adventure.
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