So let's launch into the 50 shows that have stood out down the years and, as we get up among the paint cards, the shows that have become the cast recording of my life:
First performed: 1936, Imperial Theatre, NY
First seen by me: 1984, Palace Theatre, London
Productions seen: one
Score: Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart
Book: Rodgers / Hart / George Abbott
Plot: Phil Dolan, a former vaudeville performer is now a music teacher and is so impressed with a jazz ballet written by one of his students that he manages to get it performed by a visiting Russian ballet company. However romantic complications ensue when he is targeted by the imperious Russian prima ballerina Vera Baronova, whose ballet partner/lover is driven to murderous revenge.
Five memorable numbers: IT'S GOT TO BE LOVE; THERE'S A SMALL HOTEL; GLAD TO BE UNHAPPY; ON YOUR TOES; SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE (ballet)
A shining example of the best of 1930s musicals with likeable characters, a smooth-running book which links the musical numbers like carriages on a brightly-coloured train and a memorable, tune-packed score. 34 years after seeing this, I still remember the thrill of seeing prima ballerina assoluta Natalia Makarova turn her pure star wattage to musical comedy and in particular, her breathtaking, sinuous sexuality dancing Balanchine's SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE. It's about time for a revival...
Click on Al Hirschfeld's great illustration below to watch highlights from a 2013 Broadway Encores! semi-staged concert version...