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High Button Shoes

Full-Length Musical, Comedy  /  2f, 5m

Music by Jule Styne / Lyrics by Sammy Cahn / Book by Stephen Longstreet

A rollicking homage to the silent-movie era, High Button Shoes unravels the comic entanglements of two con artists and an upstanding family in Atlantic City in 1913.
  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    2f, 5m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Farce, Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • WINNER! 1948 Tony Award for Best Choreography (Jerome Robbins)
    WINNER! 1948 Theater World Award (Mark Dawson)
Licence details
  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.
High Button Shoes

Details

Summary
Based on Stephen Longstreet’s 1946 novel The Sisters Liked Them Handsome, High Button Shoes is a wacky tribute to Mack Sennett’s brand of screwball comedy. The score, which hilariously incorporates themes by Franz Liszt and Jacques Offenbach, features a string of delightful Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn numbers, including “Papa, Won’t You Dance With Me?,” “I Still Get Jealous,” and “On A Sunday By The Sea” (a.k.a. “The Bathing Beauty Ballet”).
History
High Button Shoes opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre on October 9, 1947, starring Phil Silvers and Nanette Fabray. The show later moved to the Shubert Theatre and the Broadway Theatre, playing for a total of 727 performances.
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
In New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1913, a con man named Harrison Floy and his shill, Mr. Pontdue, target the Longstreet family, consisting of Mama, Papa, Mama's younger sister Fran, and Fran's college boyfriend Oggle. Floy pitches "snake-oil" schemes ("He Tried to Make a Dollar") including selling fake watches and diamond mines, and the shill Mr. Pontdue asks for two. After cheating the Longstreets in a phony land deal, Floy and Pontdue escape to Atlantic City, bringing their ill-gotten profits and Fran, who has become romantically involved with Floy.

The victims pursue Fran and the con men, leading to a wild goose chase through the cabanas of Atlantic City's beach. In an uproarious dance sequence,  Floy, Pontdue, the Longstreets, various sunbathers, and even a bikini-clad gorilla chase each other frantically, alternately clutching a satchel full of stolen money ("The Bathing Beauty Ballet"). The Keystone Cops arrive to sort things out, but Floy loses everything when he bets on the wrong football team. Somehow, everything works out in the end.

Principals
(2 female; 5 male)

Sarah Longstreet (Mama)
Fran (Mama’s Sister)

Harrison Floy
Mr. Pontdue
Oggle (Hubert Ogglethorpe)
Papa Longstreet
Stevie

Supporting

Uncle Willie
Nance
Junior Simpkins
Shirley Simpkins
Elmer Simpkins
Mr. Anderson

Ensemble

Townspeople, Football Players, Ladies' Bird Watching Society, Singers and Dancers

  • Time Period 1910s / WWI
  • Setting
    New Brunswick, New Jersey. Atlantic City. 1913.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)

Music

Music Samples

Act I

1. “He Tried To Make A Dollar” – Quartet
1a. “Can’t You Just See Yourself In Love With Me?” – Oggle & Fran
1b. Scene Change – Orchestra
2. “There’s Nothing Like A Model T” – Floy & Company
2a. Scene Change – Orchestra
3. “Next to Texas I Love You” – Oggle
3a. Texas Ballet – Orchestra
4. “Security” – Mama & Women
5. Tango – Orchestra
6. “Bird Watchers Song” – Mama & Women
6a. Tango – Orchestra
7. “Get Away For A Day In The Country” – Papa, Steve & Ensemble
8. “Papa, Won’t You Dance With Me?” – Mama, Papa & Ensemble
8a. “Papa” Encore – Ensemble
9. “Can’t You Just See Yourself” Reprise – Floy & Fran
10. Finale, Act One: “There’s Nothing Like A Model T” – Family & Ensemble

Act II

Entr’Acte – Orchestra
11. “On A Sunday By The Sea” – Ensemble
12. Keystone Ballet – Orchestra
12a. Scene Change – Orchestra
13. “You’re My Girl” – Oggle & Fran
[No # 14]
15. “I Still Get Jealous” – Papa & Mama
16. “You’re My Boy” (Reprise) – Floy & Pontdue
16a. Scene Change – Orchestra
17. “Nobody Ever Died For Dear Old Rutgers” – Floy, Oggle, Pontdue & Football Players
17a. Castle Walk – Orchestra
18. Finale, Act Two: “He Tried To Make A Dollar” – Company
19. Bows – Orchestra
20. Exit Music – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Violin AC
Violin BD
Viola
Cello
Bass

Oboe (and optional English Horn)
Reed 1: Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
Reed 2: Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
Reed 3: Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone

Horn
Trumpet 1 & 2
Trumpet 3
Trombone 1
Trombone 2

Percussion:
Timpani (1 or 2 Drums)
Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
Bass Drum
Suspended Cymbal
Hi-Hat Cymbals (optional)
Glockenspiel
Wood Block
Cow Bell
Temple Blocks (2 pitches)
Ratchet (optional)
Castanets
Triangle
French Auto Horn
Slide Whistle
Siren
Tambourine
Police Whistle

Piano

  • Musical StyleClassic Broadway
  • Dance RequirementsDifficult
  • Vocal DemandsDifficult
  • Orchestra SizeLarge
  • Chorus SizeLarge

Materials

Music Rentals

Concord offers a full suite of resources to help you put on the show of a lifetime!
34 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Conductor
1 Oboe
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Horn
1 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Percussion
1 Piano
1 Violin AC
1 Violin BD
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
34 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Conductor

Scripts

Available Formats:

Authors

Jule Styne

Jule Styne (1905-1994) made Broadway sing for 50 years with shows including High Button Shoes; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; Hazel Flagg; Gypsy; Peter Pan; Bells Are Ringing; Do Re Mi; Subways Are For Sleeping; Funny Girl; Fade Out-Fade In; Hallelujah, Baby!; The Red Shoes; and D ...

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Sammy Cahn

Sammy Cahn (1913-1993) was an American composer and lyricist. His best-known songs were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Doris Day and many others. Among his most popular numbers is “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” co-written with Jule Styne in 1945. He played ...
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Stephen Longstreet

STEPHEN LONGSTREET was an artist, screenwriter and author of more than 100 works of fiction and non-fiction. An artist by training, Longstreet started writing during the Great Depression in order to make a living, creating radio scripts, film reviews and detective novels. Dur ...

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