On Your Toes


On Your Toes

Full-Length Musical, Comedy  /  3w, 5m

Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Book by Rodgers & Hart and George Abbott

Gangsters, vaudeville and the Russian Ballet come together in this riotous, romantic romp!

Image: 2013 New York City Center Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3w, 5m
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Farce, Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Appropriate for all audiences
  • Winner! Two 1983 Tony Awards, including Best Revival
    Nominee: Five 1983 Tony Awards
    Winner! Four 1983 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Revival
    Nominee: Six 1983 Drama Desk Awards
    Winner! 1983 Theatre World Award


Junior's folks pull him from the family's vaudeville act and pack him off to school where he becomes a music teacher. He meets Sydney, a composer, and Frankie, a coed who's fallen hard for him, and together they set about trying to sell Sydney's new jazz ballet to a Russian ballet company. The prima ballerina wants to teach Junior more than a few new steps, but with her assistance, "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" is produced with Junior dancing the lead. In one of the funniest set pieces ever devised, Junior dances the premiere while being shot at from the audience by thugs who've mistaken him for a dancer who owes on a gambling debt. This landmark musical was directed by the legendary George Abbott and choreographed by newcomer George Balanchine, whose use of ballet here marked the first time in musical comedy that dance was a direct proponent of the plot.
On Your Toes opened on Broadway on April 11, 1936, at the Imperial Theatre, where it ran for seven months before transferring to the Majestic, for a total run of 315 performances. The cast included Ray Bolger, Tamara Geva and Monty Woolley. The first Broadway revival, directed by George Abbott and again choreographed by Balanchine, opened on October 11, 1954 at the 46th Street Theatre, featuring Vera Zorina, Bobby Van, Elaine Stritch and David Winters. The second Broadway revival opened on March 6, 1983 at the Virginia Theatre, where it ran for 505 performances. The opening night cast included Natalia Makarova, Christine Andreas, George de la Peña, George S. Irving and Dina Merrill.

Act I

On a vaudeville stage, entertainers Phil and Lil Dolan, along with their teenage son Junior, present their twice-nightly routine (“Two a Day for Keith”). Junior performs his tap specialty but quickly exits to the dressing room, where he hurriedly undresses to change for a date. The stage manager forces the Dolans onstage for a second curtain call, however, so Junior, half undressed, bows in his shorts. Back in the dressing room, Phil and Lil, worried about Junior’s philandering, insist that he go to school. Phil predicts that someday Junior will be “standing in front of a dopey class, a lousy music teacher.”

Fifteen years later, as predicted, Junior works as a music teacher at Knickerbocker University, where he challenges his students’ knowledge in classical music (“Questions and Answers”). One student, a young man named Sidney Cohn, has written a promising jazz ballet, and another, a young woman named Frankie Frayne, is a published songwriter. Alone in his classroom, Junior dances to the melody from Sidney’s ballet, “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.” Frankie, discovering Junior, learns about his vaudeville career as a member of the Dolan family. He tells her he’d like to choreograph Sidney’s ballet, so Frankie promises to introduce him to her family friend, a ballet producer named Peggy Porterfield. Junior confesses that he’s “very fond” of Frankie, and they sing her newest song together (“It’s Got to Be Love”).

In her lavish apartment, Vera Baranova, star of the Russian Ballet, tells her maid Anushka that she’s finished with her two-timing costar and ex-lover, Konstantine Morrosine. She’s ready for a new man. Peggy arrives to tell Vera about Sidney’s ballet. She recommends Junior as the show’s choreographer and Vera decides this music professor will be her new lover. Sergei, the ballet company’s director, enters and Peggy tells him about the new jazz ballet. But Sergei won’t hear of it; he isn’t interested in anything new (“Too Good for the Average Man”).

Morrosine arrives and they begin to fight, screaming at one another in Russian. Just as the fight escalates, Anushka brings Junior in. The others exit, leaving Vera and Junior to discuss the new ballet. Vera tells Junior about her upcoming role in La Princesse Zenobia. She flirtatiously demonstrates for him, and they begin to dance together. Their dancing grows more and more impassioned, and they find themselves embracing on Vera’s bed.

Back in the classroom, Junior excitedly tells Sidney and Frankie that Peggy has promised him a chance to dance in the corps de ballet. When Frankie grows jealous of Junior’s relationship with Vera and the Russians, he assures Frankie that he loves her… and the Russian Ballet. Frankie wishes they could both be far away from all of this (“There’s a Small Hotel”).

At the opening of the ballet La Princesse Zenobia, one of the dancers is missing; he’s in jail and unable to perform. Peggy decides that Junior must go in his place. A reporter named Helen Grimes interviews the cast and crew for a backstage story, and Junior pretends to be Russian, sharing a colorful life story of his own invention. As everyone prepares to go onstage, a shady gangster enters and passes a wad of cash to Morrosine. Peggy notices and worries that Morrosine is “keeping some rather dubious company.” He assures her everything is OK. Onstage, as the ballet progresses, Vera and Morrosine dance beautifully while clearly harboring contempt for one another. Junior enters and gets everything wrong. Hilariously out of step, he destroys the integrity of the piece but wins the adoration of the audience (“La Princesse Zenobia Ballet”).

Act II

A few days after the opening of Zenobia, Sergei, Peggy, Vera, Morrosine and Junior discuss Sidney’s jazz ballet. Junior’s opening night debacle generated great publicity for the ballet company, and audiences are now expecting innovation, but the colleagues can’t agree about the new work. Vera and Morrosine continue to argue, and he becomes increasingly jealous of Junior.

Junior confides in Peggy, asking if a good man can love two women at the same time. Peggy shares some advice from her mother (“The Heart Is Quicker Than the Eye”). Junior, obligated to join Vera and the company for a business lunch, cancels his lunch date with Frankie. Left alone, she reflects on the state of her love life (“Glad to Be Unhappy”).

Peggy, Sergei and some members of the company visit Junior’s school. Sergei has decided not to do the jazz ballet, but Peggy persuades him by threatening to pull her million-dollar investment. A student named Hank and a few of his classmates perform a song for their guests (“Quiet Night”). Sergei announces that the Russian Ballet’s next production will be Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Frankie and the students present a jazzy new song, and some of the ballet dancers join in. As the two groups compete, the number becomes a deft combination of tap and ballet, melding jazz and classical styles (“On Your Toes”).

At a rehearsal, Morrosine bristles as Junior coaches him on his jazz movement. Morrosine becomes violent, and the argument erupts into an all-out fight. Finally, Sergei knocks Morrosine out with a stage brace. Junior steps into the role and Sergei, impressed, decides to cast Junior as the ballet’s new star.

At the opening night performance of the new ballet, Vera tells Morrisone she was only flirting with Junior to make him jealous. Before the performance, Sergei pauses at the stage door to reflect on the big moment (“Quiet Night Reprise”). Sergei and Peggy, arm in arm, go in together.

Morrosine, still jealous of Junior, plots with his gangster friend, Louie, to shoot Junior during the applause at the end of the performance. Joe, the stage doorman, overhears and warns Frankie.

The ballet begins, and it’s a spectacular, contemporary tale of gangsters, molls, romance, betrayal and tragedy (“Slaughter on Tenth Avenue Ballet”). As the ballet nears its climax, a dancer hands Junior a note informing him of Morrosine’s plan. Junior signals the conductor to vamp, delaying the loud climax which would cover the sound of the shot. The music continues, and Junior dances frantically to give the police time to arrest Louie before he shoots. Finally, two cops run down the aisle to arrest the would-be assassin. Junior sighs in relief and collapses as the curtain falls.

After the curtain call, Frankie embraces Junior as Sergei, Peggy and Sidney join them. Suddenly, Phil and Lil Dolan, Junior’s parents, enter to congratulate their son. Everyone celebrates the music teacher’s return to his home turf – the stage (Finale: “There’s A Small Hotel”).

3 Women
3 Men

2 Men

Large singing-dancing ensemble with several small roles

Phil Dolan II (Pa)
Lil Dolan (Ma)
Phil Dolan III (Junior)
Stage Manager
Junior, 15 years later
Sidney Cohn
Frankie Frayne
Joe McCall
Vera Baronova
Peggy Porterfield
Sergei Alaxandrovitch
Konstantine Morrosine
Stage Doorman
A Woman Reporter
Dmitri Ivan
Princess Zenobia - In the 'Princess Zenobia' Ballet
Beggar - In the 'Princess Zenobia' Ballet
Kringa Khan - In the 'Princess Zenobia' Ballet
Ali Shhar - In the 'Princess Zenobia' Ballet
Ahmud Ben B'Du - In the 'Princess Zenobia' Ballet
Hank j. Smith
Ballet Leaders -In the 'On Your Toes' Ballet
Tap Leaders - In the 'On Your Toes' Ballet
Cop (2)
Messenger Boy
Hoofer - In the 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenue' Ballet
Striptease Girl - In the 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenue' Ballet
Big Boss - In the 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenue' Ballet
  • Time Period 1930s
  • Setting Various locations in the worlds of vaudeville and ballet. Late 1920s-1930s.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Cautions
    • Gun Shots


“A revelation of joy.” – San Francisco Chronicle
On Your Toes is very inspiring by virtue of its temperament and cheeky wit, its high musical standards, its speed, liveliness and brilliance of dancing... and delights the audience right from the prelude.” – Frankfurther Rundschau

“A triumph. Lots of applause... a happy audience.” – Emma Pegler, Critical Dance


  • On Your Toes

    Image: 2013 New York City Center Production (Joan Marcus)


Music Samples

Act I

1. “Overture” – Orchestra
2. “Two a Day for Keith” – Phil, Lil & Young Junior
2.1. “Two a Day for Keith (Bows)” – Orchestra
3. “School Room Intro” – Orchestra
4. “Question and Answers” – Junior & Students
4.1. “Question and Answers (Dance)” – Orchestra
5. “Junior Incidental” – Orchestra
6. “It’s Got to Be Love” – Frankie & Junior
6.1. “It’s Got to Be Love (Continued)” – Orchestra
6.2. “Scene Change” – Orchestra
7. “Too Good for The Average Man” – Sergei & Peggy
8. “Underscore, Zenobia” – Orchestra
9. “Opening Scene 5: Piano Solo Onstage” – Orchestra
10. “There’s A Small Hotel” – Frankie & Junior
11. “Orchestra Tune–Up” – Orchestra
12. “La Princesse Zenobia (Ballet)” – Orchestra

Act II

13. “Entr’acte” – Orchestra
14. “The Heart Is Quicker Than the Eye” – Peggy & Junior
15. “Glad To Be Unhappy” – Frankie
16. “Quiet Night” – Hank & Classmates
17. “On Your Toes” – Frankie & Classmates
17.1. “On Your Toes (Dance)” – Orchestra
18. “Incidental #1” – Orchestra
18.1. “Incidental #2” – Orchestra
19. “Juniorvich Dolanski” – Orchestra
20. “Quiet Night (Reprise)” – Sergei & Ensemble
21. “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue (Ballet)” – Orchestra
21.1. “Finale: There’s A Small Hotel” – Junior, Frankie & Company
22. “Bows” – Orchestra
23. “Exit Music” – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Piano Conductor
Piano I&II (Piano II doubles Celesta)
Reed I (Piccolo, Flute)
Reed II (Oboe, English Horn, Optional Bass Oboe)
Reed III (Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax)
Reed IV (Clarinet, Alto Sax)
Reed V (Clarinet, Tenor Sax)
Trumpet I&II
Trumpet III
Violin A
Violin B (Divisi)
Violin C (Divisi)
Viola (Divisi)

  • Musical Style Classic Broadway, Jazz
  • Dance Requirements Difficult
  • Vocal DemandsModerate
  • Orchestra Size Large
  • Chorus Size Medium

Licensing & Materials

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Music Rentals

Concord offers a full suite of resources to help you put on the show of a lifetime!

Full setting:

On Your Toes takes place in the 1930s.

A Vaudeville Stage, 1920s
A Vaudeville Dressing Room
Classroom at Knickerbocker University - WPA Extension
Vera's Apartment
Cosmopolitan Opera House
Stage Palace of Princess Zenobia
The Stage Door
Expressionistic Smoke-filled Div

20 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Vocal
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
1 Horn
1 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone
2 Piano 1&2
1 Drums
1 Percussion
1 Violin A
1 Violin B
1 Violin C
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Logo Pack
20 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Vocal
1 Logo Pack


Take a look below at how you can enhance your show!


Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers' contribution to the musical theatre of his day was extraordinary, and his influence on the musical theatre of today and tomorrow is legendary. His career spanned more than six decades, his hits ranging from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright light ...

View full profile

Lorenz Hart

Lorenz Hart was born in New York City on May 2, 1895, the oldest of two sons of Frieda and Max Hart. Hart graduated from Columbia Grammar School and attended the Columbia School of Journalism. In the late teens a mutual friend introduced Hart to composer Richard Rodgers. Rodg ...

View full profile

George Abbott

A Broadway actor, director, playwright and producer, George Abbott (1887-1995) wrote and starred in his first comedy, Perfectly Harmless, while attending Harvard. In the 20's/30's, his plays were mostly comedies, including Twentieth Century, Three Men on a Horse and Room Serv ...

View full profile

Now Playing