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
"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, and...it didn't seem a comfortable fit." Full 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
"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
"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 ‘Bathing Beauty Ballet’ near the top of Act 2 of ‘High Button Shoes’, a classic 1947 musical comedy that opened...as 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 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 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
"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 score...it pretends to be nothing more than pure fluff...The 'Bathing Beauty Ballet'...is a complete delight and almost worth the price of admission in itself...Unfortunately, everything else...is 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
''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
"'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
"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
“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 best...it comes off as silly and dated...The lifeline of the show, in classic Encores! tradition, is its dance." Full Review
"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
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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