Babes in Arms opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on April 14, 1937, starring Ray Heatherton, Wynn Murray, Alfred Drake, Mitzi Green and the Nicholas Brothers. The show later transferrred to the Majestic Theatre, playing a total of 289 performances.
Memories of Babes in Arms
By Ray Heatherton, Broadway's original Valentine
It was very exciting: hearing and seeing that fabulous score come alive, having the thrill of introducing "Where Or When" in the first eight minutes of the show, being the first "Funny Valentine" (my character's name was "Valentine"). Our cast included Alfred Drake, Mitzi Green, a chorus boy named Dan Dailey (who later became a star), the Nicholas Brothers (who were then appearing at the Cotton Club, though they were both just kids), and my future wife.
What else do I remember about Babes in Arms? Coming fresh from radio where I had been singing with some modest success to audition for the new Rodgers and Hart musical; walking through the stage door in Shubert Alley, backstage of the Shubert Theatre; presenting myself to the stage manager and waiting for my cue to go out on the big, bare stage; looking out on a sea of blackness, where we all know the monsters who devour poor performers like me dwell. The stage manager announced my name and I stepped out of the wings, hat in hand (my security blanket) and sang a ballad – I don't remember which one. Then a voice from the back asked if I had a rhythm number. I responded with an old Rodgers and Hart tune, "I've Got Five Dollars," from one of their earlier shows.
When I finished my songs, a voice said, "Thank you very much" and I walked off – not knowing whether they liked me or despised me. As I got to the wings, little Larry Hart, who had run from the audience up the side aisle to backstage, grabbed me by the arm and with great enthusiasm said, "You're the one we want, now don't ask for too much money, you're great!" – the most beautiful words I ever heard!