No, No, Nanette!
Book by Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel : Music by Vincent Youmans
Lyrics by Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach : Adapted and directed by Burt Shevelove : Based on My Lady Friends by Frank Mandel
Globe Theatre, Broadway - 16 September, 1925
SynopsisNo, No, Nanette, in this revamped version billed as "The New 1925 Musical", started the nostalgia craze on Broadway. It is a show that takes the audience by the hand and leads it back to the never-never-land of the 20s. Things were dearer, sweeter and sillier then, and so is No, No, Nanette now.
The story is a light-hearted framework for the music of Vincent Youmans and included in the score are two of the most famous show-tunes ever written, "Tea For Two" and "I Want To Be Happy".
Now then. The time is 1925, the place New York City, in the sumptuous town house of James (Jimmy) Smith, noted Bible publisher. The home is presided over by his wife Sue and her overworked housemaid Pauline. The main attraction of the household, however, seems to be young Nanette, a schoolgirl ward, whom the Smiths are raising to become a lady. Nanette has young ideas and a whole lot of friends who would like to see her put them into practice. A bunch of them come to call on her but encounter, instead, Sue's friend Lucille Early who has tried, in her time, both ring-around-the-rosie romantic game-playing and marriage. She knows all about both, and knows which is better. Nanette's friends go to find her in the garden, while Lucille - who has been on a shopping spree - hides her purchases in Sue's ample closets. Jimmy comes home and he and Sue have a fond, if brief, moment together recalling their own courtship days.
Then young Tom Trainer, the most ardent of Nanette's suitors, gets her alone long enough to confess his intentsions and grope for the ring he has on him - somewhere. But Nanette wants some time to raise Cain before she starts on her own family.
While Nanette is being relentlessly protected, there appears to be some familiar adult hanky-panky going on behind Sue's back. Bible publisher or not, Jimmy Smith has been sending handsome sums to support three undeserving young ladies who live in cities he occasionally has to visit in the Bible belt. All three are threatening something between True Love and blackmail, and Jimmy has to call in his lawyer. Billy Early, Lucille's husband. Billy now appears to confer with his client. But Billy encounters Sue, and instead of setting the price to buy the girls off, he learns from Sue that she and Jimmy have decided to sublet the darling little summer house they keep in Atlantic City. Since he has to go there anyway, the location strikes Billy as the ideal site for a settlement. And, well, he always did find the shore invigorating.
Now it just so happens that all of Nanette's young friends are going to Atlantic City for a weekend of surf and dancing. Nanette pleads to go, too - unchaperoned. The answer is the usual double negative. But Jimmy - who can't resist a female in distress - slips her two hundred dollars and fond regards. He's working his way out of his own troubles and maybe, with a little pocket money, she can see daylight too. After all, the pursuit of happiness is our birthright, isn't it? Billy tells Lucille he has to spend a few days travelling on business for Jimmy. But Lucille's only worries are her charge accounts. As for the possibility of Billy's straying maritally - she trusts him!
Now the following things occur:
- Billy decides that the first order of business is to get Jimmy out of town. He invents a Bible crisis in Philadelphia and packs Jimmy off. But Jimmy, to make her happy, decides to take Nanette and Pauline to Atlantic City instead and say nothing about it to Billy, Sue or Lucille.
- Sue and Lucille decide that if they are to be grass widows for a weekend they may as well have a little fun at it. In Atlantic City.
- Billy arranges to meet the three not-so-innocent charmers in Atlantic City to arrange a price to buy them off.
- Tom, who works for Billy, must go too, of course. He instructs Nanette to be prudent in his absence. But she flaunts her independent spirit and her two hundred dollars, admonished but unbowed.
Of course in Act Two everybody turns up in Atlantic City. Tom and Nanette discover each other first. After apologies and explanations are exchanged, they find themselves enchanted with that "little cottage" the Smiths are about to sublet, and dream of the day when they too will share the good life together.
While the youngsters go to dress for a hotel tea dance, the three wronged maidens appear. First Betty from Boston, then Winnie from Washington and finally Flora from Frisco. Each in turn explains that only dire circumstances forced her to accept money from kindly Mr. Smith. He made them happy. All they want now is to be kept that way. Sue finds Billy negotiating with the three girls and leaps to the wrong conclusion - that Billy has been philandering with them and using her innocent Biblical husband's name. The cad! It is clearly her duty to tell Lucille - and she does. Lucille takes her word for it and promptly moves to a hotel where her 'phone won't answer to Billy.
Then Sue packs Nanette and Pauline off for New York by the next train. Nanette and Tom have a lovers' quarrel before she leaves, and the whole weekend is clearly a disaster. Sue asks Jimmy (of all people) to explain how all this happened. But all he can say is that he wants to be happy.
Act Three opens with a very worried Billy desperately
dialling his estranged Lucille and pretending to himself that he doesn't
really mind getting hung up on. Lucille, for her part, is wearing her
despair very attractively.
Finally, things begin to get sorted out. The three greedy girlies settle for a mere twenty thousand each. Billy will take the blame and Jimmy (three-quarters of a millionaire) will foot the bill. Furthermore, the girls admit to Lucille that Billy was never the one to lead them on with gifts and flattery - it was Jimmy all the time and he never laid a hand on them. Lucille makes up with her husband and runs to tell her best friend Sue that it was really her husband who's to blame.
Tom and Nanette (who is still waiting for the next train back to New York) are reconciled too. One kiss and there are wedding bells in the air.
Sue accepts the news that it was Jimmy, not Billy, who was philandering - although platonically. All he wanted to do was to share his Bible money, and you can't fault that. It's because I'm plain, she decides. Lucille urges her to get dressed up fit to kill and win Jimmy's full attention back, once and for all. In a rare moment of abandon, she decides, "What the hell! Why not!"
Kill she does upon her entrance as belle of the costume party that follows immediately. Tom and Nanette announce their engagement. Everybody dances with everyone else, and Pauline, who can handle things without assistance from anyone, takes a solo turn before gallantly surrendering the stage.
At the FINALE, all's right with Atlantic City, Nanette and the world. May it someday be so innocently right - and happy - again!
Male - 3; Female - 7; plus dancers and chorus
Jimmy Smith - a New York bible publisher
Sue Smith - his wife
Nanette - their prtegée
Billy Early - a lawyer
Lucille Early - his wife
Tom Trainor - their nephew
Pauline - the Smith's cook
- The Call Of the Sea
- Fight Over Me
- Flappers Are We
- Hello, Hello, Telephone Girlie
- I Want To Be Happy
- I'm Waiting For You
- I've Confessed to the Breeze I Love You
- No No Nanette
- Pay Day Pauline
- Peach On the Beach
- Take A Little One Step
- Tea For Two
- Too Many Rings Around Rosie
- We're All Of Us Excited
- When You're Sad
- Who's the Who (Where Has My Hubby Gone Blues)
- You Can Dance With Any Girl At All
Reed 1, 2, 3 4 & 5; Horn; Trumpet 1, 2 & 3; Trombone 1 & 2; Percussion; Violin 1 & 2; Viola; Cello; Bass; Guitar/Banjo/Ukulele; Piano
Revival Broadway Cast Recording - Columbia 7464-30563-2