Original cast recording
1989 Goodspeed Opera House revival
The plot involves Hollywood starlet Wynne, who violates a clause in her contract by marrying Navy flyer Bill while filming a movie in Sicily. With the aid of her sister Elsey and two of her husband's service buddies, Wynne disguises herself as a sailor and stows away on his ship. When they reach Morocco, Bill finds himself accused of participating in an espionage ring, and he and his bride must find a way to absolve him of the charges so they can live happily ever after.
Background and productions
By 1955, audiences had become accustomed to book musicals that seamlessly integrated dialogue scenes with musical numbers, so this throwback to vaudeville-style entertainment, complete with burlesque jokes, chorus girls, and impersonations of Marlene Dietrich and Zsa Zsa Gabor, "seemed a shockingly dated effort", according to Ken Mandelbaum. Rodgers and Hammerstein invested in the show but made no creative contributions. During rehearsals, lead comic Myron McCormick was replaced by Lew Parker, and Sonny Tufts was fired in New Haven. Jerome Robbins spent two weeks revamping the show in Boston. The Allmusic reviewer noted that "the show seemed like such a throwback" and was "dated".
The musical opened on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on April 18, 1955 and closed on September 17, 1955 after 176 performances. The show was directed by Fred F. Finklehoffe and choreographed by Tony Charmoli, with a cast that featured real-life sisters Jane and Betty Kean as Wynne and Elsey, Mark Dawson as Bill, and Thelma Carpenter as featured singer Chipolata.
The producers immediately posted a closing notice, but theatre owner Anthony Brady Farrell decided to keep the show running with his own financing. Broadway columnists Walter Winchell's and Ed Sullivan's glowing reports failed to generate much business, and when salaries were cut to keep losses to a minimum, most of the major players quit in protest. After struggling for five months, the show finally closed at a loss of $340,000, $65,000 more than its initial investment.
The Goodspeed Opera House revived the musical with a new book by Charles Busch, who transformed it into a camp satire of 1950s movie musicals and an affectionate tribute to the genre. The musical ran at Goodspeed in September 1988.
- Mandelbaum, Ken. "CDs: Sister Act". Broadway.com, June 28, 2004
- "'Ankles Aweigh' Broadway Listing". InternetBroadwayDatabase, accessed July 22, 2012
- Ruhlmann, William. "'Ankles Aweigh'. Allmusic.com, accessed July 22, 2012
-  charlesbusch.com
- Klein, Alvin. "Theater; 'Ankles Aweigh' Gets Godspeed Revamping". The New York Times (partial), September 11, 1988
- Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops by Ken Mandelbaum, published by St. Martin's Press (1991), pages 42–43 (ISBN 0-312-06428-4)