Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the continuation of our series on Gershwin in the ’20s! Much of this year will be spent finishing off our coverage on the works of some of my favorite composers from the ’20s-’40s. Of George’s output this decade, we’ve already covered Lady, Be Good! (1924), Oh, Kay! (1926), Funny Face (1927), Treasure Girl (1928), and Show Girl (1929). So far in this series we’ve featured Sweet Little Devil (1924), Primrose (1924), and Tell Me More (1925). Today…
IV. Tip-Toes (12/28/25 – 06/12/26)
The team that created Lady, Be Good! (the Gershwin brothers, along with bookwriters Thompson and Bolton, and producers Aarons and Freedley) reunited for this upbeat musical comedy set in Florida during the 1925 land boom. Starring Queenie Smith, fresh from Sitting Pretty (1924), as the titular Tip-Toes, the plot concerns a trio of vaudevillians who have come to Florida to entertain. However, when a recently married millionaire recognizes Tip-Toes as one of his old flames, he pays the them off to leave town. But hoping to snag Tip-Toes a husband, her two partners use the cash to transform her into the glamorous Roberta Calhoun Van Rennsaler. At the casino, Tip-Toes falls for her ex-flame’s brother-in-law, a glue magnate from Maine. Before she can reveal her true identity to her new love interest, Tip-Toes gets amnesia in a car accident and believes she really is the aforementioned Roberta! Hijinks and hilarity commence until the curtain comes down on a happy ending.
Following the original Broadway production, Tip-Toes spent the rest of the decade playing San Francisco, London (where the cast recorded most of the score), Australia, and Paris. The piece was virtually untouched until a revival in the late ’70s at Goodspeed cast Georgia Engel in the title role. Following the discovery of the original orchestrations in the early ’80s, a 1998 concert resulted in a wonderful studio cast recording of the entire score, which it must be said, is one of the brothers’ finest. Several of the songs have become standards, and a few have been featured in those Gershwin jukebox musicals. The best is probably “Sweet And Low-Down,” which has been featured in both My One And Only (1983) and Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012). The recording below is from the original cast recording of the former.
Another moderately well known tune is Tip-Toes’ “Looking For A Boy.” My favorite rendition, heard below, is by the iconic Ella Fitzgerald.
The main love duet for Tip-Toes and Steve, the glue magnate, is the charming “That Certain Feeling.” The recording here is by Allen Kearns and Dorothy Dickson of the Original 1926 London cast.
Also from the Original London cast is the little known “It’s A Great Little World,” for the ensemble.
The married couple, Sylvia and Rollo, get a snappy duet in “Nice Baby,” taken here from the 1998 studio recording.
And finally, also from the studio recording, is the bouncy title tune. Here’s “Tip-Toes”!
Come back next Monday for another Gershwin musical! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the final season of Sanford And Son!