This is about the stage musical. For the film adaptation see On the Town (1949 film).
On the Town is a stage musical.
- Adolph Green - Ozzie
- Cris Alexander - Chip
- John Battles - Gabey
- Sono Osato - Ivy Smith
- Nancy Walker - Hildy Esterhazy
- Betty Comden - Claire DeLoone
- Robert Chisholm - Pitkin W. Bridgework
- Susan Steell - Madame Maude P. Dilly
- Frances Cassard - Diana Dream
- Jeanne Gordon - Senorita Dolores Dolores
A quartet of workmen mourn the start of a new work day. The whistle blows at 6am, and three sailors, Ozzie, Chip and Gabey, excited for 24 hours of shore leave, emerge. Chip is excited to see all the sights that his father told him about after his trip to New York in 1934, with his decade-old guidebook by his side. Ozzie is interested in finding a date (or several) because Manhattan women are the prettiest in the world. Gabey is looking for one special girl, hopefully one who reminds him of his 7th grade girlfriend, Minnie Frenchley. On the subway, the three spot a poster of Ivy Smith, "Miss Turnstiles" for the month of June. Gabey, overcome with love for the picture, takes it with him. An old lady angrily tells him that she will have him arrested for vandalism, and the three run off.
Gabey wants to meet Ivy Smith, despite Chip's protests that the city is too big for things like that to happen. Ozzie, recounting an incident where Gabey saved their lives, convinces Chip to help Gabey find her. Chip grudgingly agrees and Ozzie coaches Gabey on what to do once he meets Ivy. The three break up, Gabey to Carnegie Hall, Ozzie to the Museum of Modern Art, and Chip to the "subway people." The three imagine what Miss Turnstiles must be like, and a ballet is performed in which Ivy demonstrates all the many different, contradictory, skills she has. The little old lady finds a policeman, and the two chase after the sailors.
A young female cabbie named Hildy is found asleep in her cab by her irate boss S. Uperman. He fires her and tells her to return the cab in an hour or he will call the police. Looking for one last fare, she comes across Chip. It's love at first sight, at least for Hildy. She forcefully kisses Chip, but Chip wants nothing more than to find Ivy. Hildy tempts him into taking a tour of the city, but all the places he wants to go (the Hippodrome, the Forrest Theatre to see Tobacco Road, the New York City Aquarium, and the Woolworth Tower) are either no longer in existence or no longer notable. The only place Hildy wants to take Chip is her apartment. Mr. Uperman joins the lady and the cop in the chase, implying Hildy stole the cab.
Ozzie goes to the museum, but mistakenly arrives at the Museum of Natural History instead of the Museum of Modern Art. There he meets a budding anthropologist, Claire de Loone. She is amazed at his resemblance to a prehistoric man, and asks him for his measurements. He mistakes her scientific interest for romantic interest, but as she explains, she is engaged to be married to the famous Judge Pitkin W. Bridgework. Pitkin has taught her to learn to know men scientifically, but she, like Ozzie, often gets carried away. The two of them accidentally knock over a dinosaur. Waldo Figment, the professor who built the dinosaur, joins Uperman, the cop, and the lady in the chase. Gabey mopes around the city. Without love, New York is nothing but a "Lonely Town."
At Carnegie Hall, Ivy Smith is taking lessons from Madame Dilly, a drunk who clearly has no knowledge of vocal training. Ivy is not quite as glamorous as the Miss Turnstiles contest has made her out to be. In reality, while she is studying to do all the things they said she was, she is nothing more than a "cooch dancer" at Coney Island. When Madame Dilly leaves to refill her flask, Gabey enters. He asks Ivy to go out with him, and to his surprise, she accepts. Gabey leaves ecstatically. Madame Dilly advises Ivy to break the date as "sex and art don't mix".
Ozzie accompanies Claire back to her apartment, where he meets Claire's fiancé, Pitkin W. Bridgework. They try desperately to explain what they are doing together, but Pitkin does not mind. He leaves them alone to go to a meeting, reminding Claire that they are to meet at Diamond Eddie's to celebrate their engagement. The two take advantage of their alone time.
Hildy brings Chip and an armful of groceries back to her apartment, promising to cook for him. Chip insists that he must leave to find Ivy. She tells him to call the IRT, but they refuse to give Chip her address or phone number. He decides that he has tried hard enough, and he and Hildy attempt to get physical when her roommate, Lucy Schmeeler, home from work with a cold, intrudes. Hildy finally gets rid of her by convincing her to go to an air-cooled movie. Hildy seduces Chip, bragging about her many talents, not the least of which is her ability to cook.
Gabey's attitude has done a full 180, and he feels "Lucky to Be Me." Ivy, about to meet Gabey at Nedick's, runs into Madame Dilly, who tells her that unless she goes to work as a cooch dancer tonight, she will be fired, and not be able to pay her bill to Madame Dilly. Madame Dilly threatens to smear her reputation, and she is forced to stand Gabey up.
Chip and Ozzie both arrive at Nedick's with Hildy and Claire both dressed as Ivy Smith. Gabey isn't fooled, and tells them the story of how he met her. Just then, Madame Dilly arrives with a message from Ivy: she will not be coming because she instead elected to go to a fancy party. Gabey is alone and dejected, but Hildy tells him that she can get him a date: Lucy. The five go into a dance demonstrating the nightlife of the city.
At Diamond Eddie's, the dancers perform a number. Gabey is still hung up on Miss Turnstiles, and Lucy hasn't shown up yet. A singer, Diana Dream, performs a very sad song, which causes Gabey to feel even sadder. Lucy calls, having accidentally gone to the Diamond Eddie's in Yonkers. The group decides to go to the Congacabana at the suggestion of Claire, but on their way out, they run into Pitkin. Ozzie and Claire try to explain the situation, but as before, all Pitkin says is "I Understand". The gang leaves for the Congacabana while Pitkin stays behind to pay the check.
At the Congacabana, Dolores Dolores sings the same sad song as before, in Spanish. Hildy interrupts her, saying she had gotten a request to sing. Hildy, as well as Ozzie, Claire and Chip, try to lift Gabey's spirits by reminding him that he can count on them. As they are about to depart for another nightclub, the Slam Bang Club, Pitkin arrives. Claire tells him once again to pay the check, also to wait for Lucy and come to the Slam Bang later.
At the Slam Bang Club, Madame Dilly is in a drunken stupor. Gabey asks her where Ivy is, and she lets it slip that she is at Coney Island. Gabey runs off to find her. Chip and Ozzie, afraid that he won't be able to get back to the ship on time, rush after him. On their way out, they come across Lucy and Pitkin. Claire once again leaves him to go with Ozzie. Pitkin recalls all the times in his life that he "understood" and realizes he's been played the fool by everyone, including Claire. He also bonds with Lucy and the two of them join the chase along with the little old lady, the police officers, Figment, and Uperman.
Riding the Subway, Gabey dreams about Coney Island and Ivy. An extended dance sequence occurs with Ivy and a dream Gabey in a boxing match. The other four have just missed Gabey and are riding another subway car. They wonder about their future after the men have to go back to the ship.
At Coney Island, Ivy, along with several other girls, dances in a show called Rajah Bimmy's Harem Scarem. Gabey sees Ivy and accidentally tears her already skimpy outfit off. She is arrested for indecent exposure as the chasers arrive and demand the others be arrested. Claire hopes Pitkin will get her out of the situation, but he no longer trusts her and has the three men brought to the naval authorities. The girls ask Pitkin if he's ever "committed an indiscretion," which he staunchly refuses. Just then, he sneezes in the same way as Lucy Schmeeler, casting doubt on his claim.
As the clock chimes 6, the sailors prepare to get back on the ship. Just then, the girls come running to them, telling them that Pitkin understood. They say a fond farewell as three new sailors leave the ship, eager to have their own adventures in New York City.
- I Feel Like I'm Not Out of Bed Yet — Workmen
- "New York, New York" — Ozzie, Chip and Gabey
- "Presentation of Miss Turnstiles" — Announcer, Contestants, Ivy Smith and Manhattanites
- "Come Up to My Place" — Hildy Esterhazy and Chip
- "Carried Away" — Claire DeLoone and Ozzie
- "Lonely Town/Pas de deux/Chorale" — Gabey and Ensemble
- "Carnegie Hall Pavane (Do-Do-Re-Do)" — Madame Dilly, Ivy and Women of Carnegie Hall
- "Carried Away" (Reprise) - Ozzie and Claire
- "I Can Cook Too"— Hildy Esterhazy
- "Lucky to Be Me"— Gabey and Full Company
- "So Long, Baby" — Diamond Eddie's Girls
- "I Wish I Was Dead" — Diana Dream
- "I Wish I Was Dead" (reprise) - Senorita Dolores Dolores
- "Ya Got Me" — Hildy, Claire, Ozzie and Chip
- "I Understand (Pitkin's Song)" — Pitkin
- "Some Other Time" — Claire, Hildy, Ozzie and Chip
- "Finale Act II: New York, New York" (Reprise) —Full Company