Original Cast Recording
|Book||George S. Kaufman
|Basis||Melchior Lengyel's story Ninotchka
1939 film Ninotchka
Silk Stockings is a musical with a book by George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath, and Abe Burrows and music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The musical is loosely based on the Melchior Lengyel story Ninotchka and the 1939 film adaptation it inspired. It ran on Broadway in 1955. This was the last musical that Porter wrote for the stage.
During the "severely troubled tryout" George S. Kaufman and his wife Leueen MacGrath were replaced by Abe Burrows. (According to Cecil Michener Smith and Glenn Litton, Kaufman became angry and quit.) Burrows re-wrote most of the book. The producer Cy Feuer took over the direction from Kaufman. The three leads had not previously performed in a Broadway musical comedy: Hildegard Knef was a German film and stage actress, Don Ameche had never sung, and Gretchen Wyler was making her Broadway debut. "All three triumphed."
Directed by Cy Feuer and choreographed by Eugene Loring, the cast included Hildegard Knef (Ninotchka), Don Ameche (Steve Canfield), Gretchen Wyler (Janice Dayton), George Tobias, David Opatoshu, Julie Newmar, and Onna White. Jan Sherwood eventually replaced Knef as Ninotchka and also portrayed the role for the show's first national tour. Scenic and lighting designs were by Jo Mielziner and costumes were by Lucinda Ballard. The tour played the Curran Theatre, San Francisco, California starting in April 1956,as well as Los Angeles.
The score "played a large part in keeping 'Silk Stockings' running on Broadway for 478 performances and in helping to recoup the immense production expenses for the show (brought in at a cost of $370,000, 'Silk Stockings' was considered one of Broadway's most expensive musicals for its time)...The big hit...was clearly 'All of You'."
The Lost Musicals staged reading of the musical was held in September 2005 in New York City.
Hildegard Knef (original German spelling) gave a vivid backstage account of the casting, rehearsals, tryouts and Broadway opening of Silk Stockings in her autobiography The Gift Horse: Report on a Life (McGraw Hill, 1971) pages 281 through 342.
The musical involves special envoy Nina Yaschenko, who is dispatched from the Soviet Union to rescue three foolish commissars from the pleasures of Paris. Romanced by theatrical agent Steven Canfield, she eventually comes to recognize the virtues of capitalist indulgence. Other characters include Peter Boroff, Russia's greatest composer, who is being wooed by Janice Dayton, America's swimming sweetheart, to write the score for her first non-aquatic picture, a musical adaptation of War and Peace.
A film based on the stage musical was released in 1957.
- Michener Smith, Cecil and Litton, Glenn. "Chapter:The Book Musical Refined" Musical Comedy in America, Psychology Press, 1981, ISBN 0-87830-564-5, p. 220
- Suskin, Steven. "Cole Porter, 'Silk Stockings'"Show Tunes: the Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers (4 ed.), Oxford University Press US, 2010, ISBN 0-19-531407-7, p. 116
- "'Silk Stockings' production, plot and song list" sondheimguide.com, accessed January 10, 2011
- "'Silk Stockings' National Tour, 1956" broadwayworld.com, accessed January 10, 2011
- "Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, 1956, 'Silk Stockings'" broadwayla.org, accessed January 10, 2011
- Schwartz, Charles. "'Silk Stockings'" Cole Porter: a Biography, Da Capo Press, 1979, ISBN 0-306-80097-7, p. 254
- Dale, Michael. "'Silk Stockings': Cole Porter Fights The Cold War" offbroadway.broadwayworld.com, September 15, 2005