On The Town

Original London Production at the Prince of Wales Theatre 1963

London Concert Revival at the Royal Festival Hall 2000

London Revival by the English National Opera 2005 and 2007

London Revival at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park 2017


Musical by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! Written in 1944 as an expansion of Leonard Bernstein's jazzy ballet score Fancy Free which he wrote for Jerome Robbins, the story concerns three sailors who are on 24-hour shore leave in New York City and the women they meet along the way!

Music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on an idea by Jerome Robbins.


On the Town - Original London Production at the Prince of Wales Theatre 1963

Opened 30 May 1963, Closes 13 July 1963 at the Prince of Wales Theatre

The cast featured Elliott Gould as 'Ozzie', Don McKay as 'Gabey, Franklin Kiser as 'Chip', Carol Arthur as 'Hildy', Andrea Jaffe as 'Ivy Smith' and Gillian Lewis as 'Claire'. Directed and choreographed by Joe Layton with sets by Oliver Smith and costumes by Cynthia Tingey.


On The Town - London Concert Revival at the Royal Festival Hall 2000

Opened 1 October 2000, Closed 3 October 2000 at the Royal Festival Hall

Three performances only. The cast featured Karl Daymond as 'Chip', Graham Bickley as 'Ozzie', Brent Barrett as 'Gabey', Kim Criswell as 'Hildy Esterhazy', Lillian Watson as 'Ivy Smith' and Sally Burgess as 'Claire de Loone' with narration by Julia McKenzie and Ned Sherrin. Presented and recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio 3.


On the Town - 1st London Revival by the English National Opera 2005 and 2007

Previewed 5 March 2005, Opened 10 March 2005, Closed 28 May 2005 (in repertory) at the London Coliseum
Opened 20 April 2007, Closed 25 May 2007 at the London Coliseum

English National Opera's Olivier Award-nominated production of On the Town returns to The London Coliseum for 20 performances only with a huge cast, chorus and orchestra of 105 - following its smash-hit Olivier Award-nominated season in March 2005

The cast for this 2007 production of On The Town in London features Caroline O'Connor as 'Hildy Esterhazy', Helen Anker as 'Ivy Smith', Lucy Schaufer as 'Claire de Loone', Janine Duvitski as 'Lucy Schmeeler', Alison Jiear as 'Dolores Dolores' and Rodney Clarke as 'Master of Ceremonies', who all reprise their roles from the 2005 staging. They are joined by Sean Palmer as 'Chip', Ryan Molloy as 'Ozzie' and Joshua Dallas as 'Gabey'. The cast for the 2005 included Adam Garcia as 'Chip', Tim Howar as 'Ozzie' and Aaron Lazar as 'Gabey'. Directed by Jude Kelly with choreography by Stephen Mear, designs by Robert Jones and lighting by Mark Henderson. The orchestra is conducted by Simon Lee.

The 2005 season, which was extended due to public demand and played in repertory as part of the opera season, was performed for a total of 20 performances (including one preview performances). The return 2007 season played as a 'stand-alone' straight run for a total of 20 performances with no previews.

"On The Town, Bernstein's 1944 valentine to the Big Apple, is a magnificently ambitious work. Like the sprawling place if reflects, it is swaggering, edgy, rowdy, melancholic, sleazy and sexy, but above all it's exhilarating. As the song goes, New York is 'a helluva town' and this is a helluva score. In Jude Kelly's hugely enjoyable revival at the vast Coliseum, thanks to a full orchestra, you hear it in all its glory." The Mail on Sunday

"For all the thinness of the plot and book, On the Town has a first-rate score, with more 'hit numbers per quarter-hour than your average Lloyd Webber offers in an entire evening: songs such as the wistful Lonely Town and the ravishing quartet We'll Catch Up Some Other Time. The dance sequences, more extended than in most musicals, betray On the Town's origins as a ballet, and it is wonderful to hear the score played by a large opera house band, even though the orchestrations are not Bernstein's own. ENO has done On the Town proud, even if Jude Kelly's staging and Stephen Mear's choreography lack the last degree of slickness you would expect from a Cameron Mackintosh spectacular. ENO has neither the budget nor the rehearsal time available to a big West End extravaganza. An extra week of previews would have sharpened everyone up, but the economics of an opera house are not those of Drury Lane or the Palladium... Kelly's production cleverly disguises the holes in the plot with changes of Robert Jones's ingeniously suggestive sets - mainly consisting of girders that light up spectacularly for the nightclub scenes. The collapsing dinosaur skeleton in the Natural History Museum is a big, operatic coup de theatre." The Sunday Times

"I am sure that English National Opera will fill the London Coliseum for the 17 performances of its new production of On the Town, Bernstein's Broadway musical about three sailors on shore leave in New York in 1944. Produced with immense zest by Jude Kelly and choreographed snazzily by Stephen Mear, it makes an enjoyable evening provided one does not think too hard about possible comparisons. Drury Lane's recent Anything Goes, for instance, leaves this at the starting-gate not only as a spectacle but because the work itself is musically superior." The Sunday Telegraph


On the Town - London Revival at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park 2017

Previewed 19 May 2017, Opened 31 May 2017, Closed 1 July 2017 at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

A major revival of the 'New York, New York' musical On The Town in London for a strictly limited six week season

New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! Written in 1944 as an expansion of Leonard Bernstein's jazzy ballet score Fancy Free which he wrote for Jerome Robbins, the story concerns three sailors who are on 24-hour shore leave in New York City and the women they meet along the way!

The cast features Danny Mac as 'Gabey', Jacob Maynard as 'Chip' and Samuel Edwards as 'Ozzie', Siena Kelly as 'Ivy', Lizzy Connolly as 'Hildy', Miriam-Teak Lee as 'Claire', Maggie Steed as 'Madame Dilly', Naoko Mori as 'Lucy Schmeeler' and Mark Heenehan as 'the Judge'. Directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie with designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Howard Hudson and sound by Nick Lidster. Music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on an idea by Jerome Robbins.

Unfortunately Fred Haig - who was originally due to play the role of 'Chip' - sustained a fracture to his foot during a preview performance on Monday 22 June. Due to this he has now withdrawn from this production - the role of 'Chip' is now played by the understudy, Jacob Maynard. The Opening Night was due to take place on Thursday 25 May 2017 - but, due to events, this was delayed by six days, until Wednesday 31 May.

When this production opened here at London's Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, Dominic Maxwell in the Times praised "this lavish and imaginative rendering of the 1944 Leonard Bernstein musical about three horny sailors with 24 hours of shore leave in New York." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper highlighted that "Drew McOnie directs and choreographs this terrific revival... McOnie's triumphant choreography captures the hectic silliness and brings out the underlying melancholy... 'Helluva town?' Yes, and this deserves to be a helluva hit." Neil Norman in the Daily Express said: "Forget the watered-down Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra movie, this is the real thing... For this vivacious revival, director / choreographer Drew McOnie pays tribute to the original while adding a few grace notes of his own... New York, New York is a helluva town. And this is a helluva show." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times wrote that "Drew McOnie’s exuberant work here is irresistible... the central trio are engaging... all makes for a smart, brash, infectious production." Lyn Gardner in the Guardian thought that "Drew McOnie’s revival of Leonard Bernstein’s 1944 musical is as insubstantial and delicious as a melting ice-cream on a summer’s day. McOnie’s choreography nods to Robbins’ original moves, but it has a freshly minted zing of its own that captures the youthful, glad-to-be-alive exuberance of its protagonists... As everyone sings, New York is 'a helluva town', and this breezy, joyful navy lark is a helluva lot of fun." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph commented that "it looks exquisite, and sounds gorgeous... but, although it summons the energy of the city that never sleeps, it’s also faintly exhausting to watch – and with a storyline powered principally by hormones, you can go hungry for drama... In the ballet-steeped second half, I oscillated between finding it a helluva show and a helluva bore... Very charming, all told, then, but not irresistibly so." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard explained that "it's best appreciated by the head rather than the heart. I admired it throughout, but was almost constantly emotionally unengaged... The real star, however, is the supple and sinuous choreography from Drew McOnie, who also directs." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail described it as being "balletic, funny, liberated and has a superb score... Drew McOnie’s production may have been a little wary of the Forties chauvinism and injects right-on diversity with mixed-race and gay romancing."

"This a traditional, depth-free show about guys and gals, cheesy jokes and superslick dance routines. It will delight those who like such things and should definitely be avoided by those who say they hate musicals. Despite being a fine production, it will make no converts. The best things by far are the female characters. Maybe it's because they're all dressed alike, but the three sailor boys don't come across with nearly such vividness. Their three gals are a hoot, though. Siena Kelly, as Ivy, makes a petite and vivacious beauty queen; Lizzy Connolly is hilarious as the sexually voracious taxi driver Brunhilde Esterhazy (yes, really); and Miriam-Teak Lee is wonderfully eccentric as the eminent anthropologist Claire de Loone, who gets particularly excited about people with dolichocephalic heads. Praise, too, for Maggie Steed, on comic form as the formidable, Jack Daniel's swilling Madame Dilly, music and dance teacher." The Sunday Times

"Leonard Bernstein's 1944 musical rom-com is a glorious Valentine to the Big Apple. 'New York, New York is a helluva town' goes the best-known number. And it's a helluva score, pulsating to the jazzy, bluesy, brassy, sexy, sleazy, exhilarating and romantic rhythms of the city that never sleeps. Choreographer and director Drew McOnie's fluid, fluent and fabulously well-drilled revival finds all this, and then an edge of his own, in one helluva show. Super-light on its feet, it seldom stops dancing... Maggie Steed over­hams it as the squiffy singing teacher who tries to scupper the love affair between Danny Mac's Gabey and Ivy (Siena Kelly in a stunning stage debut), but she has a very funny line: 'Sex and art don't mix. If they did I would have gone straight to the top.' They mix perfectly in this show, the hottest to trot in London Town." The Mail on Sunday

"Stepping into the shoes of Gene Kelly is no mean feat, but Strictly Come Dancing star Danny Mac rises to the challenge with aplomb in Drew McOnie's sparky revival of Leonard Bernstein's 1944 musical - which is best remembered in its movie incarnation, when Frank Sinatra starred alongside Kelly. That's quite the star-power billing to live up to. So the best compliment I can pay the young, dynamic cast is that they make the show their own. The plot, such as it exists, is paper-thin - a trio of sailors have 24 hours to sample the delights of New York City. But around this simple premise is a riot of memorable tunes, sexy comedy and, best of all, a musical where the dance does the talking. McOnie, who choreographs as well as directs, remains true to the spirit of original dance-maker Jerome Robbins. But the dance has a contemporary twist, quirky expressionism rubbing shoulders with jazz and balletic grace The mix works brilliantly... Danny Mac is a likeable romantic lead, but the scene-stealers here are the women. Siena Kelly, Lizzy Connolly and Miriam-Teak Lee are all sass and pizzazz as they beguile the boys." The London Metro

The weather Every theatre performance is unique, but this is especially the case here at the Open Air Theatre where both the stage and auditorium seating are completely uncovered and open to the elements. It is therefore best to come prepared for all types of weather. It is particularly important to bring a jumper for the end of evening performances. Bad weather may mean that performances have to be stopped and be re-started but, on average, 94% of performances are completed each season. In the event that the performance is abandoned due to bad weather, no refunds are given, but you can exchange your tickets for a future performance. Performances are never cancelled prior to the start time. Please speak to a member of staff on the evening.

On The Town in London at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park previewed from 19 May 2017, opened on 31 May 2017 and closed on 1 July 2017