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High Button Shoes

From 17 critic and 61 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Dated, Fluffy, Funny, Disappointing

About the show

For their final Encores! production of their 75th anniversary season, City Center presents Jule Styne’s rarely-seen musical comedy about the misadventures of two charismatic conmen. More…

Follow Harrison Floy (Michael Urie) and Mr. Pontdue (Kevin Chamberlin) as they proceed to bamboozle Sara Longstreet (Betsy Wolfe) and her family—inciting a chase from New Brunswick, down the Jersey Shore, to Atlantic City. 

"High Button Shoes" was Jule Styne’s first Broadway hit and won Jerome Robbins his first Tony Award for choreography years before "West Side Story" and "Gypsy."


"But, fear not! The Encores! creative team-director John Rando, music director, Rob Berman and choreographer Sarah O'Gleby-found a terrific cast led by Michael Urie in the Phil Silvers' role of Harrison Floy and Betsy Wolfe as Sarah Longstreet...In addition to O'Gleby's terpsichorean contributions, this staging included the additional bonus of two dances choreographed by Jerome Robbins (staged by O'Gleby) who won his first Tony for his contributions to this musical." Full Review

Theater Reviews from my Seat

"Urie is funny and appropriately the big center of attention in this show. The humor verges on titillatingly naughty...The big reason to revisit 'High Button Shoes' is for the choreography of the 'Bathing Beauty Ballet'...I find it hard to make an argument for 'High Button Shoes' as a great musical. There are some very good songs...If you care to take a swim in musical theater history where football and vaudeville could amusingly coexist on stage, 'High Button Shoes' is worth the plunge." Full Review


"That crazy cacophony of choreographic chaos that careens across the City Center stage shortly after the commencement of Act II is the main reason for Encores! to bring back the smash hit 1947 musical comedy...Not exactly a forgotten gem...A pleasant, though not especially distinguished collection of generic ballads and novelty numbers...Urie is indeed a charismatic performer...but director John Rando has him mimicking Silvers, didn't seem a comfortable fit." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Where the current staging falls flattest is in the star performance...Without a strong star performance, all that’s left in this 'High Button Shoes' is the 'Bathing Beauty Ballet.' And that’s not enough to support the evening. Nor does the rest of the cast capture the ragtag style the show calls for...The music, at least, is impeccably handled. Rob Berman leads the Encores orchestra with such flair that during the rambunctious overture the show sounds like a hit. But not for long." Full Review

Theater News Online

"Seventy years after 'High Button Shoes' ended a 727-performance stroll on Broadway, the show hasn’t been back there. An enervating Encores! revival at New York City Center provides clues as to why, even as it showcases songs filled with fizz and wit...Director John Rando’s staging reminds that shoes, high button or otherwise, and comedy require perfect fits – or there will be stumbles...a game Michael Urie strains for laughs, while Betsey Wolfe is too 2019 for a story set in 1913." Full Review

Stage Left

"While Mr. Urie is a fine actor and a consummate clown, he is unable to provide the anchor that this show needs for success...The score—Styne’s first for the stage—sounds lovely in the hands of the 27 piece Encores! orchestra...but the skill of Cahn’s clever and humorous lyrics far exceed the achievement of Styne’s music, which is largely as unremarkable as the story...The highlight of the entire evening, and the reason for catching this production, is the stunning act two opener." Full Review

The Wrap

“The ‘Bathing Beauty Ballet’ near the top of Act 2 of ‘High Button Shoes’, a classic 1947 musical comedy that part of NY City Center’s Encores! revival series, is indeed a show-stopper, choreographed to well-timed perfection...Would that the rest of the production had such verve — because it would help to paper over a show that’s about as substantial as cotton candy, dissipating almost the moment you taste it...The thin plot is supplemented by vaudeville-ish side bits.” Full Review

The Observer

“The endless first act has no coherence, no charm, and lots of puerile jokes...The...score is derivative and second-rate. The Encores! performances were efficiently shticky—only Kevin Chamberlin as Floy’s rotund sidekick was three-dimensional. As for the Bathing Beauty Ballet itself, it lived up to its huge reputation, even though the stage of the City Center was too small for it: it looked reduced. But in the middle of the mess that is ‘High Button Shoes’, it shone with the light of genius.” Full Review

The New York Times

"The entire production seems to take place under a double glaze of nostalgia...Urie gives a characteristically skillful performance, but it feels pasted on…That ballet aside, none of the musical numbers land with the impact that makes audiences clap their hands raw, although I enjoyed Mr. Loehr’s and Ms. Hull’s artfully awkward take on the tango. And the jokes are more likely to make you smile politely than laugh out loud." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"As for the score, composer Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn expended all their efforts on numbers for the show's secondary characters. The most successful of them, the infectious polka-flavored 'Papa, Won't You Dance with Me,' and 'I Still Get Jealous' belong to the young Longstreet parents, Sara and Henry, who are played with extreme charm and grace by Betsy Wolfe and Chester Gregory. It's certainly possible you may leave City Center humming those tunes." Full Review


“While the show does have a charming pretends to be nothing more than pure fluff...The 'Bathing Beauty Ballet' a complete delight and almost worth the price of admission in itself...Unfortunately, everything uninspired and falls flat. Curiously, the cast is devoid of life and chemistry despite the presence of some well-credentialed performers...It’s not that terrible, but just okay for this marquee series isn’t nearly good enough.” Full Review

AM New York

''High Button Shoes' is hardly ever performed nowadays. And this weekend, musical theater junkies can learn why thanks to a lumbering and tiring concert revival…Much of the plotting is clunky and outright baffling, and the so-so score lacks any songs that are well-remembered today…'High Button Shoes' lacks the substance to justify a professional revival…Then again, with more inspiration and better comic ingenuity, 'High Button Shoes' might have at least been more fun." Full Review


"An assortment of enthusiastic actors lost in a sea of passé jokes and just-OK songs. And then something happens...when it all comes together for 10 or so fleeting minutes of heaven...It is an antic delight, and I would encourage any musical theater aficionado to see it. I'd also encourage Encores! to just present this sequence and cut the rest of the show...The jokes land with a thud, the pacing is lugubrious...The production just isn't ready for prime time, and that extends to the actors." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"'Has not withstood the test of time...That it makes little sense as it careens from scene to disconnected scene is as gentle a way as I can put it. Under John Rando's direction, almost every flaw is emphasized, while the show's strengths are downplayed...There are some very good songs scattered here and there...The rest of the cast try to rev things up with lots of frenzied mugging, but snake oil is still snake oil, no matter how you package it." Full Review

Reclining Standards

"Michael Urie is a charmer for sure, and it was fun to watch him channel the great Phil Silvers. That comic’s flint-edged style isn’t a natural fit for Urie, but he made a game try and exuded personality...Even the couple of hit songs that come from this show aren’t especially strong. Both would have sunk without a trace in a better musical. Which leaves Jerome Robbins’ choreography. Again, it’s far from his best work...It was a lame finish to a wan Encores! season." Full Review

New York Theatre Guide

“Encores! does its best...What results is often a very finely polished antiquity with one or two redemptive qualities...‘High Button Shoes’ is this formula at its most underwhelming...But with no timeless standards, the score falls flat, and even at its comes off as silly and dated...The lifeline of the show, in classic Encores! tradition, is its dance." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Encores! does its best with a consistently dazzling orchestra, a talented bill of stars, and the best dancers in showbiz. What results is often a very finely polished antiquity with one or two redemptive qualities. Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn’s 'High Button Shoes' is this formula at its most underwhelming...With no timeless standards, the score falls flat." Full Review

Funny, Quirky, Great staging, Entertaining

See it if Classic Older Musical with dancing, and fun. Its silly too. Has a little of everything.

Don't see it if Its carefree, light and New Brunswick, NJ gets to you.

Also People say its Dated, Yes it is by today standard but that why it enjo... Read more Read less

Great writing, Great staging, Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a musical that has it all; great dancing and singing. You will be wanting more when the show ends.

Don't see it if you do not enjoy musicals and want a serious play.

Fluffy, Great choreography, Great staging, Funny, Delightful

See it if you appreciate inventive traditional musical comedy with a great star turn.

Don't see it if you only enjoy contemporary musicals and serious works

Also The Act II comic ballet is worth the price of admission all by itself.... Read more Read less

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You like to revisit fun “old fashioned” musicals, this is the one to see. Fun from top to bottom!

Don't see it if If you’re a theatre “snob” stay away. I’m not, and I loved it!

Also ENCORES was having an off year, until High Button Shoes. A complete de... Read more Read less

Fluffy, Dated, Enchanting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if you're interested in old musicals beautifully done...if you're a Jerome Robbins fan... if you're curious about this score - adorable!

Don't see it if you're expecting it to be an immediate Bway transfer, sometimes, MOST times, they aren't - for me that's not what encores is about

Hilarious, Great singing, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if you like old fashioned musicals

Don't see it if you like your musicals up to date and relevant

Also A pleasant show with no lessons and plenty of good music and great dan... Read more Read less

A fun time

See it if you want to enjoy an excellent silly show with some terrific dance numbers.

Don't see it if want to be totally absorbed in the show. Don't see it if old fashioned funny musicals aren't your thing.

Refreshing, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if Energetic and talented cast, catchy tunes and charming, old fashioned entertainment. Dancing was excellent, and Michael Urie was terrific.

Don't see it if Don't see this if you prefer a modern and edgy sensibility.

That ballet!!!!, Disappointing direction, Fluffy, Urie--gotta love him!, Historically intriguing

See it if you want to see what was happening between Oklahoma! and The Music Man on Broadway,or if you want to see the early genius of Jerome Robbins.

Don't see it if Fluffy yet worthy musicals are beneath you; you're expecting a rousing Styne overture; you've outgrown sweetness on Broadway.

Also I have much more to say:... Read more Read less

Charming, Funny, Great harmonies, Great dancing, Fluffy

See it if You enjoy Encores productions, light fare, silly/fluffy plot, beautiful dancing. Vocal harmonies are stellar. Lots of funny moments.

Don't see it if You want a fully staged show, something w a meatier plot or a moral to the story. Pure silliness. A few ear worms but music isn’t memorable.

Delightful, fun, great songs and dancing, classic

See it if Love the Encores traditions and enjoy witty, fun, old-fashioned charm and some awesome dance numbers a la Jerome Robbins.

Don't see it if like modern musicals and their style.

Fun!, Broad humor, Melodious score, Long, Fluffy

See it if you like old-fashioned silly musicals. Lots of singin/dancin. Plot is gossamer thin. Urie/Wolfe delight. Orchestra shines. Clever staging.

Don't see it if you want meaty works. Occasnly, too much of a gd thing; needs cuts. JR ballet is historic curiosity; soft shoe great. Chase scene dazzles!

Dated, Fun, Great choreography and dancing, Great acting, Funny

See it if want to be thoroughly entertained by a wonderfully silly show with some fantastic dancing

Don't see it if Desire a score that’s more than simply pleasant and/or well thought-out characters and plot

Also Sure, it was dated, there wasn’t much of a plot, and the generic chara... Read more Read less

Funny, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if We saw this show on May 12 and only one word describes it: fabulous!

Don't see it if If you do not want to be entertained.

It is 1947, 1ts 1947 dances are great, Entertaining

See it if Beautiful dances. The aim of Encores is to go back. It does. It is 1947. Comparison exists. Huge band does the job. The young lad stars.

Don't see it if Do not expect today's standards. It is mid 20th century humor.

Thought-provoking, Must see, Great acting, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if You like Jerome Robbins and a historical gem dating back to the 1940's.

Don't see it if You do not like musicals in an earlier style.

Charming-yet-unimpressive, Predictable, Old-fashioned, Light-entertainment, Frothy

See it if Seeking the balm of old-fashioned fun, frolicking ensemble casts, and Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn music and lyrics in a nutty present day.

Don't see it if you seek stunning/surprising set-design, costumes, or singing--which is uneven; need something edgy and unpredictable; dislike datedness.

Also Michael Urie was a significant draw for me to see High Button Shoes: I... Read more Read less

Great choreography, Great singing, Funny, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like a very light hearted old fashioned musical from Styne and Cahn with original Jerome Robbins choreography.

Don't see it if you like sophisticated songs and dance numbers or lush musicals.

Also The beach dance number is absolutely hysterical. Very talented cast an... Read more Read less

Refreshing, Great singing, Entertaining, Funny, Delightful

See it if you want an old time mad-cap show with great music and great dancing that's just plain fun!

Don't see it if you want a musical with a message.

Hilarious, Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if you enjoy a farcical romp without a specific directions, enjoying the talent, dancing, and homage to Vaudeville.

Don't see it if you don't have a sense of humor with an understanding of the times and nature of shows from this era.

Also This was an inane farce with a weak plot and, at best, an adequate sco... Read more Read less

Quirky, Entertaining, Delightful, Fluffy, Enchanting

See it if They don't write them like this any more. Sure, hokey fluff...but everyone is game. Robbins beach ballet of Keystone Cops is delightful.

Don't see it if Want a thought provoking musical which questions truth and values. It's just a fun night in New Brunswick.

Entertaining, Fluffy, Funny, Dated, Delightful

See it if You enjoy the city center productions which brings back the Broadway orchestrations of yesteryear.

Don't see it if You want something modern

Also I didn’t know this show. I do enjoy the City Center way of bringing th... Read more Read less

Fabulous jerome robbins choreogy, Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if Highly entertaining old-fashioned musical with stunning Jerome Robbins choreography, silly story well payed by excellent ensemble

Don't see it if You don’t love dance because the choreography makes the show particularly second act Sunday By the Sea

Dull, great cast, great orchestra, terrific dancing

See it if You want to see Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne in their first collaboration, enjoy great dancing, and don't expect good music.

Don't see it if You aren't a theater nerd.

Also There's a reason this is a "rarely-seen" musical. High Button Shoes is... Read more Read less

Terrific orchestrations, Great dancing, Dated, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like old-fashioned musicals & enjoy great choreography. Lots of singing and dancing. Michael Urie works really hard - it sometimes works

Don't see it if you don't like contrived, silly plots. There are some tuneful numbers.

Cast & Creatives (5)