On Your Toes
Music By: Richard Rodgers
Lyrics By: Lorenz Hart
Book By: Richard Rodgers, George Abbot and Lorenz Hart
Distributed by: Masterworks Broadway
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
On Your Toes is a Broadway musical that first saw the light of day in 1936. Known for being the first musical to incorporate classical dance and jazz into its score, On Your Toes had quite a run during its first opening, featured in two theaters before closing after a year. It was revived numerous times and was even adapted into film in 1939. On April 26, 2011, the Studio Cast Recording of On Your Toes was released in digital format by Masterworks Broadway.
The story follows Phil “Junior” Dolan III, former vaudeville performer turned music teacher and his attempts to get his student’s jazz ballet performed on stage. His attempts to approach Sergei Alexandrovich, director of the Russian Ballet bring him in contact with Vera Barnova, star of the company. She sets her designs on Phil, much to the chagrin of his besot student, Frankie, and Vera’s volatile lover Morrisone. When Morrisone hires thugs to “take care” of Phil, things get rather interesting and Phil finds himself center stage as star performer in the ballet.
The music of On Your Toes is a mix of jazz and classical, featuring music written by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart. There are quite a few whimsical and often funny songs like It’s Got To Be Love and The Heart Is Quicker Than the Eye, and a clever, informative song called Questions and Answers in which the musical prowess of Bach, Brahms and Beethoven are extolled. But, for the most part, the soundtrack is short on songs and lengthy on musical compositions. Dance is the heart of this musical and therefore it is no surprise to find an eleven minute track dedicated to musical score (Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, the ballet Phil tries so hard to get produced).
The music is enjoyable, but sometimes music is meant to be seen as much as heard. The On Your Toes Soundtrack has some fun songs and great musical scoring, but this is one of those times when you really need to see what’s going on on-stage while the music is playing. Although the On Your Toes Soundtrack is enjoyable, it would prove to be somewhat lacking for someone who has never seen the musical and therefore has no idea of the storyline as the music does nothing to help in that aspect. If you are a fan of the musical, this soundtrack will make a great addition to your collection, but if you have never heard of On Your Toes before, you might want to skip the soundtrack.