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Cover of the New World Studio Cast RecordingSitting Pretty

Music by Jerome Kern: Lyrics by P.G. Wodehouse: Book by Guy Bolton

Fulton Theatre, Broadway - April 8, 1924; transferred to Imperial Theatre, 9 June, 1924 (total 95 perfs)



On the grounds of Mr. Pennington's summer home in Far Hills, New Jersey, the friends of Bill Pennington (the old man's nephew) convene for a coaching party and picnic. Bill's girlfriend, Babe (a chorus girl of note), questions young Bill about his prospects, but he deflects the question.

As the stage clears, Dixie and May Tolliver, identical twin sisters from the orphanage next door, sneak over the garden wall to pick flowers. They are discovered by Bill, to whom they recount their family history. They explain sadly that they doubt they will ever be adopted, and all three reflect on the hard knocks life can dish out.

Old Mr. Pennington summons his relatives to the estate to announce he has disinherited them all. He intends to create a new family by adopting a young boy and a young girl and breeding "fewer but better Penningtons:' Pennington introduces his adopted son, an uncouth young man named Horace. Shocked and dismayed, all the relatives (except Bill) depart in a huff.

Left alone, Horace is confronted by his Uncle Jo, a jewel thief. It is revealed that Horace's adoption is part of Uncle Jo's plan to rob the Pennington estate during a big house party. They are interrupted by Bill's best friend, Judson. To distract Judson from the real purpose of Uncle Jo's visit, Horace and Uncle Jo discuss big-game hunting in Africa, and Judson joins in enthusiastically.

Dixie meets Horace in the garden, and they are instantly and they are instantly drawn to one another. Horace reveals that Mr Pennington plans to adopt one of the orphans from the asylum to be his bride, and he hopes it may be Dixie, especially after she recounts to him some of her favourite recipes. Their hopes for domestic bliss run high.

After the song, Dixie encounters and inadvertently insults old Mr. Pennington. He vows immediately that she will never be the one he adopts. Meanwhile, Babe, discovering Bill has been disinherited, abruptly calls off their engagement. Sadly, Bill observes that "gold diggers used to be forty-niners: now they're perfect thirty-sixes".

May climbs over the garden wall and hears Bill's song. She gives him a pep talk, and he realises at once that this is the girl for him. He decides to go out into the world and seek his fortune, and when he returns he will seek May out and lay his fortune at her feet.

Uncle Jo has not been idle. In order to infiltrate the Pennington house even further, he manages to have himself hired as Horace's private tutor, much to Horace's dismay (he is convinced Uncle Jo will give the game away). The orphanage matron and Mr. Pennington meet in the library to discuss the adoption of the lucky orphan. All in all, it has been an eventful morning, and Dixie, ever the optimist, recalls the cheery philosophy of an old man "back home in Clayville".

Mr. Pennington makes his selection. Horace wants him to adopt Dixie, whom he loves, but Pennington selects May, who loves Bill. As hearts are broken on all sides, Dixie and May are separated.


Act Two begins six months later, at Mr. Pennington's winter estate in Florida. A lavish costume ball is in progress, celebrating May's "coming out." The guests, dressed in the period of the 1850s, dance polkas, lancers, and waltzes. A party guest, dressed as Empress Eugenie of France, steps forward to sing a reverie.

Bill appears at the party to offer his services to his uncle. In the six months since Act One he has become a famous private detective, and offers to protect the house and the guests. Pennington declines his offer. Bill sees May, who is overjoyed to see him. He tells her she was the inspiration for his success. May is still very unhappy, however. She misses Dixie terribly, and longs to see her.

Horace and Uncle Jo plot their caper. Jo plans to strike after the party, when the ladies are asleep. Horace, newly educated, begins to have doubts about the enterprise, having learned from going to the movies that criminals always end up in jail. Uncle Jo wistfully remembers his dear old prison days.

Dixie suddenly appears at the party. She has prevailed on her new employer, the famous New York dressmaker Jeanette, to send her to Florida to fit May's party dresses herself-so here she is! May is elated to see her sister. The twins dream of the day when they can be together always.

Horace is as glad to see Dixie as May is. He passionately declares his love for her (and her cooking). They resolve to marry in spite of everything. Bill seeks out May and proposes. They sing of their future in a little bungalow somewhere, and of the enchanted conveyance that will take them there-the Long Island Rail Road.

Horace, out of love for Dixie, resolves to go straight. He tells her he can never be hers, and that he is not worthy of her. They dance one dance, and he departs. Sadly, Dixie gazes at the sky, left with only the Man in the Moon for a dancing partner.

Uncle Jo almost makes off with the jewels, but a newly reformed Horace manages to foil his escape. Overjoyed, Dixie accepts Horace's proposal. He gives Dixie the credit for recovering the missing jewels, leading Mr. Pennington to give his blessing to their marriage-and May and Bill's in the bargain. All ends happily (even for Uncle Jo!).


William Pennington
Bill Pennington
Judson Waters
Babe LaMarr
May Tolliver
Dixie Tolliver
Horace Peabody
Uncle Jo
Mrs. Wagstaff
Empress Eugenie

Musical Numbers:

  1. Overture
  2. Is This Not A Lovely Spot? - William Pennington, Bill Pennington, Judson Waters, Babe LaMarr, Chorus
  3. You Alone Would Do - Bill Pennington, Babe LaMarr
  4. Worries - Dixie Tolliver, Bill Pennington
  5. Bongo On The Congo - Horace Peabody, Judson Waters, Uncle Jo
  6. Mr. and Mrs. Rorer - Dixie Tolliver, Horace Peabody
  7. There Isn't One Girl - Bill Pennington
  8. A Year From Today - Bill Pennington, May Tolliver
  9. Shufflin' Sam - Dixie Tolliver, Chorus
  10. Days Gone By - Empress Eugenie
  11. All You Need Is A Girl - Bill Pennington, May Tolliver, Chorus
  12. Tulip Time In Sing Sing - Uncle Jo
  13. On A Desert Island With You - May Tolliver, Dixie Tolliver
  14. The Enchanted Train - May Tolliver, Bill Pennington
  15. Shadow Of The Moon - Dixie Tolliver, Male Chorus
  16. Sitting Pretty - Horace Peabody, Dixie Tolliver
  17. All the World Is Dancing Mad - Bill Pennington, Judson Waters, Uncle Jo, Horace Peabody
  18. I'm Wise -Bill Pennington
  19. Just Wait


Studio Cast recording starring Judy Blazer, Paige O'Hara, Davis Gaines, Jason Graae, Merwin Goldsmith, Paul V. Ames, Beverly Lambert and Paula Laurence Conducted by John McGlinn - New World Records 80387 - 2