Silk Stockings

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath and Abe Burrows
Suggested by "Ninotchka" by Melchior Lengyl

The Plot:

moss hart with dogAt the height of the Cold War, a Soviet pianist named Boroff defects while visiting Paris. His skills (and contracts) are immediately taken up by Steve Canfield, an American show biz agent, who wishes the pianist to compose movie music for a new version of War and Peace as a vehicle for film swimming star, Janice Dayton.

In the meantime, three Soviet agents are sent to bring Boroff back to Moscow. When they go hopelessly and joyfully native in Paris, their female superior, Nina Yakoushouva—Ninotchka—goes to the City of Light to bring back all four defectors.

When stern Soviet agent meets slippery American agent, the sparks fly—as does a love story that allows them to celebrate how Paris loves lovers before a frightening—but brief—detour to Moscow.

About the Play:

silkUnlike in the latter part of the twentieth century, it was a rare thing to find a Broadway musical based on a film in 1955. Silk Stockings is based on Greta Garbo's first and only comedy (written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett), although it pointedly updates the story to spoof such topical headlines as Stereophonic Sound, Stalin's show trials in the Soviet Union, American preoccupations with Communists, and 1950s American pop culture. Cole Porter's lush score takes him back to his beloved Paris, with such lovely songs as "Paris Loves Lovers," "As On Through the Seasons We Sail," and the classic "All of You." It remains a great love story, and a pointed satire, in a stunning setting.

Stage history:

Silk Stockings' producers, Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin, had a success with Guys and Dolls in 1950. Attempting to work again with Kaufman, who directed that production, they ultimately balked at the romantic aspect of Kaufman's adaptation of the film, which he wrote with his second wife, Leueen MacGrath. They brought Abe Burrows in to rewrite the book on the road—it remains the only time in his career that Kaufman was fired from a production. Nonetheless, the show, which opened on February 24, 1955 at the Imperial Theatre was a hit, running 478 performances. Much of the Kaufman wit still remains, and although several staged readings have proved the worth of the plot and the songs, no full-length revival has been attempted. The wealth of original material, pre-New York, contains eight Cole Porter songs cut when the book was restructured. A successful MGM version, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, was made in 1957, changing much of the tone to accommodate the superior dancing skills of its stars.

Production details:

Cast size: Leading roles: 8 men, 3 women. Many singing and dancing supporting roles
For rights to perform Silk Stockings, please contact:
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Strip Box:

Based on the Lubitsch film, Ninotchka, Silk Stockings is one of the first musicals based on a movie and remains a sharp satire of the Cold War.