New York City Center's Encores! season ends with a springtime romp, the rarely seen High Button Shoes. Among the show's many treasures is Jerome Robbins's showstopping Act 2 opener, choreographed in the slapstick style of Mack Sennett and set to the Jule Styne-Sammy Cahn song "On a Sunday by the Sea." Encores! delivers its own unique take on one of Robbins's most inspired Broadway dances, and delivers the rest of the show's mayhem — from the Model T Ford to the Rutgers football squad — in high style and with a complete commitment to the chaotic spirit of the original.
Robbins's work for High Button Shoes earned him his first Tony Award, just a year before he joined the New York City Ballet. Styne and Cahn's generally underrated score produced two big song hits of the period, "Papa, Won't You Dance with Me?" and "I Still Get Jealous." And Stephen Longstreet's book buoys the show's cheery mayhem with a story not unlike Meredith Willson's The Music Man, concerning the adventures of a traveling con man caught in small-town America — in this case, rural New Jersey. Brimming with charm and silliness, High Button Shoes is the perfect way to close this Encores! season honoring City Center's 75-year musical theater tradition.