It’s New York City, 1933. The big news for all performers in town: Julian Marsh, one of Broadway’s hottest producers and directors, is gearing up to stage his next big show (“Overture”).
At the 42nd Street Theatre, auditions for the chorus the new show, Pretty Lady, are underway. Andy Lee, the dance director, leads all the hopeful contenders through the steps while Oscar, the rehearsal pianist, plays and Billy Lawlor, the show’s young male lead, looks on (“Audition Number”).
Maggie Jones and Bert Barry, the writers of Pretty Lady, arrive at the theatre. The duo still has much to do before their producer, Julian Marsh, arrives. Maggie approves Andy’s choice of chorus members before leaving with Bert to compose the final songs for the show. Thrilled that they have been hired, the chorus members step up to give their names: Phyllis, Lorraine, Diane, Ethel and Ann — or as she is better known, “Anytime Annie.” As Ethel tauntingly explains, Annie earned her nickname after “only [saying] no one, and then she didn’t hear the question,” implying that Annie has enjoyed the attentions of many men.
In bounds a young woman, looking for the dance auditions. She is Peggy Sawyer, newly arrived in New York City from her hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Immediately, Billy is charmed by the sweet, endearing Peggy. He tells her that unfortunately, auditions were at ten; Peggy explains that she arrived at the theatre at ten, but took a whole hour to summon up the courage to enter the stage door. It looks as though she has missed her chance now. Billy, however, is determined that Peggy still get her chance to audition for Andy Lee. He begins to sing to Peggy, beckoning her to join in. Although she is hesitant at first, she soon relaxes and enjoys their impromptu number (“Young and Healthy”).
The dancers and stage hands begin to take notice, all impressed with Peggy’s voice and dancing. Andy Lee, unfortunately, is not. He cuts Billy and Peggy off abruptly. Everything must