The musical premiered on 3 December 1930 at the newly renovated Adelphi Theatre, London. It was produced by Charles B. Cochran and directed by Frank Collins with choreography by Buddy Bradley and Billy Pierce. It starred dancer Jessie Matthews (who played both the mother and the daughter) and comedian Sonnie Hale, who married her the following year. It also featured Joyce Barbour and Jean Cadell.
The lavish production was noted for the setpiece "Dancing on the Ceiling" that used London's first revolving stage. In this, the two stars danced around a huge chandelier that was standing up from the floor, simulating the ceiling. Matthews subsequently adopted "Dancing on the Ceiling" (also known as "He dances overhead") as her signature tune. The show was Matthews' biggest stage success and led to her renowned film career.
The musical garnered critical and box office success, running for 254 performances. It was later adapted into a successful 1934 film also starring Matthews.
Harriet Green, a music hall star of the Edwardian period, has given birth, out of wedlock, to a daughter. Harriet flees to South Africa to raise her daughter away from the spotlight. The years pass, and now her daughter, Harriet Hawkes, returns to London to try to enter showbusiness. A publicity man, Tommy, sees that young Harriet is a dead ringer for her famous mother and convinces a theatre producer to star her in a new revue as a miraculously youthful Harriet Green. The public believes the ruse, but also believes that Tommy is her son. This leads to complications, because Harriet and Tommy fall in love.
- "Doing a Little Clog Dance"
- "Dear, Dear"
- "Nobody Looks at the Man"
- "Waiting for the Leaves to Fall"
- "No Place but Home"
- "The Lion King"
- "Quand Notre Vieux Monde Etait Tout Neuf"
- "La Femme a Toujours Vingt Ans!"
- "The Colour of Her Eyes"
- "In the Cool of the Evening"
- "Dancing on the Ceiling"
- "Je M'en Fiche du Sex Appeal!"
- "Hot Blues"
- "If I Give in to You"
- Green, Stanley. Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre p. 115 (1980) Da Capo Press ISBN 0-306-80113-2
- Rodgers, Richard. Musical Stages: An Autobiography, pp. 127-150 (2002) Da Capo Press ISBN 0-306-81134-0
- Rusinko, Susan. The Plays of Benn Levy: Between Shaw and Coward (1994) Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press ISBN 0-8386-3556-3
- Tanvitch, Robert. The London Stage in the 20th Century. Haus Publishing Ltd ISBN 978-1-904950-74-5
- Information about the musical and film from the Jessie Matthews site
- Profile of the musical at the Lorenz Hart site
- Extended plot synopsis from the theatre programme of Ever Green