Music And Book: Music by Vernon Duke. Lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Sketches by David Freedman. Orchestrations by Hans Spialek; additional orchestrations by Conrad Sallinger, Russell Bennett, and Don Walker.
Choreography: Ballets by George Balanchine. Modern dances by Robert Alton.
Production: Produced by Lee Shubert. Sketches directed by Edward Clarke Lilley. Entire production staged by John Murray Anderson. Scenery and costumes by Vincente Minnelli. Scenery executed by James Surridge; costumes executed by Brooks Costume Company and others.
Premiere: January 30, 1936, Winter Garden, New York. Conductor: John McManus. (Out-of-town preview: December 30, 1935, Opera House, Boston, followed by the week beginning January 14 at the Forrest Theater, Philadelphia.)
Cast: Fannie Brice, Bob Hope, Josephine Baker, Eve Arden, Harriet Hoctor, and others. Corps de ballet (7 women), Dancers (17 women), Boys (8 men). Dancers, in addition to those appearing in the Balanchine ballets, included the Nicholas Brothers.
WEST INDIES (Act I, Scene 5): Production: Costumes of ensemble by Raoul Péne de Bois.
Cast: Gertrude Niesen and The Varsity Eight (singers);
The Conga: Josephine Baker and (dancing) ensemble.
WORDS WITHOUT MUSIC: A
SURREALIST BALLET (Act I, Scene 7): The Singer, Niesen; The
Dancer, Harriet Hoctor; The Figures in Green, Milton
Barnett, George Church, Tom Draper; The Figures in Black, Gene
Ashley, Eddie Browne, Prescott Brown, Howard Morgan; The Figure
with the Light, Willem van Loon; corps de ballet.
NIGHT FLIGHT (Act I, Scene 10): Hoctor.
THE BALLAD OF BABYFACE McGINTY (Act I, Scene 2 in Boston and Philadelphia, but cut before a New
York opening because the show was too long): Sung by Judy Canova,
danced by (among others) Duke McHale, Cherry and June Preisser,
Harold Nicholas, Georgia Hiden, and George Church. A parable about a
real-life American gangster who eluded the law for many years but was
finally caught for tax evasion.
MOMENT OF MOMENTS (Act II, Scene 1, The Foyer of an Opera House in the 'Sixties'): Niesen and
Rodney McLennan with The Varsity Eight (singers); The Ballerina,
Hoctor; Grand Duke, Herman Belmonte; ensemble (dancers).
5 A.M. (Act II, Scene 6):
Sung and danced by Josephine Baker; The Shadows, 4 men.
Note: 227 performances
(first and second editions), plus national tour. In the printed
program Balanchine is credited with three numbers---WORDS WITHOUT
MUSIC, NIGHT FLIGHT, and 5 A.M. He later acknowledged
choreographing the conga for Baker, and it seems likely that he had a
hand in MOMENT OF MOMENTS in which Hoctor was the featured dancer,
and MAHARANEE, sung by Baker. The second edition of the Ziegfeld
Follies opened in September 1937. Hoctor and Baker, Balanchine's
two central dancers, had left the show. Baker was replaced by Gypsy
Rose Lee. NIGHT FLIGHT and 5 A.M. were dropped; Balanchine's name
does not appear on the program.
Hoctor took NIGHT FLIGHT
(in which she played a dead pilot) into her personal repertory,
dancing it---among other places---in a Chicago theater that presented
stage shows with movies.