After a series of seven “special performances” in May and early June, The Garrick Gaieties began an open-ended run on Broadway at the Garrick Theatre on June 8, 1925. Billed as “a musical revue with sketches,” the show began as a fundraiser for the Theatre Guild, taking aim at various aspects of life in New York City, with a particular focus on the joys and trials of the theatre world. Directed by Philip Loeb, the production featured a large cast of young entertainers, including Romney Brent, June Cochrane, Sterling Holloway, Libby Holman, Philip Loeb, Edith Meiser, Sanford Meisner, Betty Starbuck and Lee Strasberg.
The show was Rodger & Hart’s first major Broadway success, and the score’s breakout hit was “Manhattan.” With playful lyrics and an appealing, lilting melody, the song soon became a standard; it was recorded by dozens of singers and rightfully earned an honored place in the Great American Songbook.
Reviews were positive. Gilbert W. Gabriel of the New York Telegram called it “a witty, boisterous, athletic chowchow” with “fitting and enlivening” music and “a crackling of good lyrics.” Robert Coleman of the Daily Mirror called it “a spirited, tuneful revue” with irrepressible spontaneity,” and M.L. of the Daily News praised the music and lyrics as “well above the average Broadway output.”
Commercially, the show was so successful that a second edition of The Garrick Gaieties, with new songs and sketches, opened the following year. This edition closed on November 28, 1925, after a run of 211 performances.