On the Town opened on Broadway at the Adelphi Theatre on 28 December 1944, and ran for 462 performances. It was based on an idea by Jerome Robbins, with a score by Leonard Bernstein, and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. For all four of these future giants of musical theatre, it was their first Broadway show and it was an immediate hit. Comden and Green also took two of the lead roles: the anthropologist Claire de Loone and the sailor Ozzie. The day after the opening night, Lewis Nichols in the New York Times could barely contain his enthusiasm: There can be no mistake about it: On the Town is the freshest and most engaging musical show to come this way since the golden day of Oklahoma!
Michael Tilson Thomas and Bernstein first met at Tanglewood. Tilson Thomas studied conducting there in 1968 9 but the two had little contact at the time. However, in 1970, as the newly appointed assistant of the Boston Symphony, Tilson Thomas was asked to direct the off-stage band for Bernstein s Tanglewood performance of Mahler s Second Symphony. They quickly became friends, and Bernstein immediately sensed something of his own musical brilliance, breadth and spontaneity in his younger colleague.
On the Town depends on strong, comic vocal performances such as these, but much of the score consists of extended dance numbers one of the shows most original features, and the perfect opportunity for an orchestra to shine. The LSO dazzles, with an irresistible combination of virtuosity and Broadway flair, under Michael Tilson Thomass inspired conducting.