As Thousands Cheer

Cover to World Premiere Cast Recording

A Musical Revue in Two Acts, a Prologue and 21 Scenes. Sketches by Moss Hart. Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.

Opened Music Box Theatre, New York - 30 September 1933; closed 8 September 1934 (400 perfs)


The show gave its authors a melody-filled, laugh-laden successor to their Face the Music. The cast included Clifton Webb, Helen Broderick, Ethel Waters, and Marilyn Miller in her last stage appearance before her untimely death.

Using the clever device of having each scene preceded by an appropriate newspaper headline, its sketches sent their barbs far and wide: the Hoovers leaving the White House, with the President giving his cabinet a Bronx cheer; John D. Rockefeller refusing to accept Radio City as a birthday gift; commercials interrupting the singing during a Metropolitan Opera broadcast; a hotel staff falling under the influence of Noël Coward; and a Supreme Court decision that says musicals cannot end with reprises, resulting in a new number, "Not For All The Rice In China," as a finale.

Berlin filled the score with top tunes. Besides "Supper Time," an African-American woman's lament for her lynched husband, and "Harlem On My Mind," in which a Josephine Baker type of expatriate longs for her old home (her lips start to whisper "Mon Cheri," but her heart keeps singing "Hi-di-ho"), Ethel Waters introduced the sizzling "Heat Wave." Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb stepped out of a sepia-tinted photo in the rotogravure section to enjoy the "Easter Parade." Berlin had written this song during World War I, when its lyric began "Smile and show your dimple." The show was a triumph, running a year and making a handsome profit - a rarity during Depression days.

Taken from A Chronicle of American Musical Theatre (3rd ed) by Gerald Boardman

Scenes, settings and musical numbers:





As Thousands Cheer: The Hit Musical Comedy Revue! (1998 New York Revival Cast)