Opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York on August 27, 1934. 237 performances. Music by Harold Arlen. Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and E. Y. Harburg. Sketches by David Freedman, H. I. Phillips, Alan Baxter, Henry Clapp Smith, Frank Gabrielson, Ira Gershwin, and E. Y. Harburg. Staged by John Murray Anderson, Philip Loeb, Robert Alton, and Charles Weidman. Produced by the Messrs. Shubert (Lee and J. J.). Cast included Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Luella Gear, Francis Williams, Brian Donlevy, Earl Oxford, Dixie Dunbar, Robert Wildhack, and Bartlett Simmons.
While George was busy with the composition of PORGY AND BESS, Ira was asked to collaborate with his old schoolmate, E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, and composer Harold Arlen on this “smart” revue for the Shuberts. Not only did Ira write his share of the show’s lyrics, but he was also credited with some of the sketch material. A fine cast, headed by two future stars of THE WIZARD OF OZ, Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger, handled the book and the songs with their usual flair and comic style. From the topical look at New York City politics in “Life Begins at City Hall” to the risque “Quartet Erotica” and the rueful “Fun to Be Fooled,” LIFE BEGINS AT 8:40 is full of quality songs that have yet to be fully appreciated by devotees of the Great American Songbook.