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Emerson Colonial Theatre Official Blog

Red, Hot & Blue

Posted on October 8, 2023

This week in 1936, the pre-Broadway engagement of the musical Red, Hot & Blue began performances at the Colonial.

Starring Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, and Jimmy Durante, the musical follows a newly wealthy widow named Nails who starts a lottery to help her lawyer find his long-lost childhood sweetheart.

The original show was directed by Howard Lindsay and choreographed by George Hale, with music by Cole Porter (who had come to the Colonial previously for the pre-Broadway tryout of Anything Goes in 1934), with a book written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.

The most well-known number from the show is the duet between Hope and Merman, “It’s De-Lovely.” It is said that there was a dispute between Durante and Merman about who should be billed first. The solution was to crisscross their names on the Playbill drawing the observer's eye in two directions.

At the time, the New York Times wrote “Everyone was there [at the Colonial] who could get in and those who could not sit stood three deep at the back of the house.”

Photo 1: RED, HOT & BLUE 1936 Colonial Theatre program (signed by Merman).
Photo 2: Production photo of Ethel Merman and Bob Hope.
Photo 3: Production photo of Ethel Merman, Bob Hope and Jimmy Durante.

Images from Vandamm Studio