Sophisticated Ladies opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on March 1, 1981 and closed on January 2, 1983 after 767 performances and fifteen previews. The musical was conceived by Donald McKayle, directed by Michael Smuin, and choreographed by McKayle, Smuin, Henry LeTang, Bruce Heath, and Mercedes Ellington. Scenic design was by Tony Walton, costume design by Willa Kim and lighting design was by Jennifer Tipton. The original cast included Gregory Hines, Judith Jamison, Phyllis Hyman, Hinton Battle, Gregg Burge, and Mercer Ellington. Hines' older brother Maurice joined the cast later in the run.
The score includes "Mood Indigo," "Take the "A" Train", "I'm Beginning to See the Light", "Hit Me With a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce", "Perdido", "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)", "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart", "Old Man Blues", "In a Sentimental Mood", "Sophisticated Lady", "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "Satin Doll", and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good", among many others.
In his review for The New York Times, Frank Rich wrote that " ...the new musical revue at the Lunt-Fontanne, is an Ellington celebration that just won't quit until it has won over the audience with dynamic showmanship. It's not a perfect entertainment - let's save the flaws for later - but it rides so high on affection, skill and, of course, stunning music that the lapses don't begin to spoil the fun. What's more, this is the only Broadway revue of recent vintage that operates on a truly grand scale."
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1981||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Gregory Hines||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical||Hinton Battle||Won|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Phyllis Hyman||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Michael Smuin||Nominated|
|Best Choreography||Henry LeTang, Donald McKayle and Michael Smuin||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Willa Kim||Won|
|Best Lighting Design||Jennifer Tipton||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Gregg Burge||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Phyllis Hyman||Won|