Park Avenue

Park-Avenue

Opened at the Shubert Theatre, New York on November 4, 1946. 72 performances. Music by Arthur Schwartz. Lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Book by Nunnally Johnson and George S. Kaufman, based on a short story by Johnson. Directed by George S. Kaufman. Dances staged by Helen Tamiris.  Produced by Max Gordon. Cast included Leonora Corbett, Arthur Margetson, Raymond Walburn, Martha Stewart, Ray McDonald, Mary Wickes, Ruth Matteson, and David Wayne.

Ira Gershwin’s final Broadway show was this collaboration with composer Arthur Schwartz about a group of Long Island society folk and their revolving-door marriages. Though Ira’s lyrics — particularly in the proto-feminist “Don’t Be a Woman If You Can” — were sprightly as always, the show’s satirical book generally didn’t find favor with the critics and PARK AVENUE closed a few short weeks after its debut.

Though he was approached in later years to write for the stage again, Ira’s comment to future Gershwin biographer Edward Jablonski expressed his feelings: “I can’t afford to do any more flops — two in a row is about six too many.” Ira’s lyrics would not find their way to Broadway again until 1983, when MY ONE AND ONLY opened three-and-a-half months before his death.