No, No, Nanette

No, No, Nanette is a musical comedy with lyrics by Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach, music by Vincent Youmans, and a book by Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel, based on Mandel’s 1919 Broadway play My Lady Friends. Its songs include the well-known “Tea for Two” and “I Want to Be Happy”.

The farcical story involves three couples who all find themselves together at a cottage in Atlantic City in the midst of a blackmail scheme. Even though Jimmy Smith has become a millionaire due to his bible publishing business, his wife Sue remains frugal and has little desire for money. Her main concern is raising their adopted daughter, Nanette, into a respectable lady. Nevertheless, Jimmy doesn’t know what to do with all his money so he decides to become the beneficiary for three beautiful women. After a while, Jimmy realizes that he is bound to get himself in trouble. He enlists the help of his lawyer friend, Billy, to try and get rid of the three women. When Sue and Billy’s wife, Lucille, discover this fact, they assume that Billy and Jimmy are having affairs with these women. Meanwhile, young Nanette, who has an untapped wild side, is being pursued by a suitor, Tom Trainor. Eventually, Billy and Jimmy explain the situation and are forgiven by their wives. Likewise, Nanette and Tom sort out their difficulties and decide to be married.

No, No, Nanette was first produced on March 11, 1925 at London’s Palace Theatre and ran for 665 performances. The Broadway production opened at the Globe Theatre on September 16, 1925 and ran for 321 performances. Film versions and revivals followed. A popular 1971 Broadway revival led to the piece becoming a favorite of school and community groups for a time.

A popular myth held that the show was financed by selling baseball legend Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, resulting in the “Curse of the Bambino”. However, it was My Lady Friends, rather than No, No, Nanette, that had been directly financed by the Ruth sale.

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