Captain Coddington, a penniless lad-about-town, gives a young aristocrat friend, Lord Clanside, a tour of the slightly naughty lifestyles both high and low, to be found in London. Coddington invites all the ladies of the Ambiguity Theatre to lunch; Clanside agrees to pay the bill if he is invited to the party. Afterwards, with several uninvited guests, they visit the theatre to see a rehearsal. Coddington romances the prima donna of the theatre and wins her.
In Town was first produced by George Edwardes at the Prince of Wales Theatre, opening on 15 October 1892, and transferred to the Gaiety Theatre on 26 December 1892, running for a successful 292 performances. It starred Arthur Roberts, together with Edmund Payne, Eric Lewis, and singing star Florence St John. Topsy Sinden danced in the piece. The musical was produced on Broadway, for a run of 40 performances, opening on 6 September 1897 at the Knickerbocker Theatre, starring W. Louis Bradfield as Arthur Coddington and Marie Studholme as Kitty.
In Town was one of the first Edwardian musical comedies on the London stage. It was lighter than a Gilbert and Sullivan style comic opera, but more coherent in construction than a burlesque. The piece initiated Tanner's and Edwardes's famous series of modern-dress musical shows and helped set the new fashion for the series of Gaiety Theatre musical hits that followed. Many of the best-known London couturiers began to design costumes for stage productions by the 1880s. The illustrated periodicals were eager to publish photographs of the actresses in the latest stage hits, and so the theatre became an excellent way for clothiers to publicise their latest fashions.
After In Town, the Edwardian musical comedies would dominate the musical stage in Britain, and contribute to musical theatre throughout the English-speaking world and beyond, until the 1920s.
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