Ankles Aweigh is a musical with a book by Guy Bolton and Eddie Davis, lyrics by Dan Shapiro, and music by Sammy Fain.
The plot centers on Hollywood starlet Wynne, who violates a clause in her contract by marrying Navy flyer Bill while filming a movie in Sicily. With the aid of her sister Elsey and two of her husband's service buddies, Wynne disguises herself as a sailor and stows away on his ship. When they reach Morocco, Bill finds himself accused of participating in an espionage ring, and he and his bride must find a way to absolve him of the charges so they can live happily ever after.
By 1955, audiences had become accustomed to book musicals that seamlessly integrated dialogue scenes with musical numbers, so this throwback to vaudeville-style entertainment, complete with burlesque jokes, chorus girls, and impersonations of Marlene Dietrich and Zsa Zsa Gabor, was an anomaly for the times. Rodgers and Hammerstein invested in the show but made no creative contributions. During rehearsals, lead comic Myron McCormick was replaced by Lew Parker, and Sonny Tufts was fired in New Haven. Jerome Robbins spent two weeks revamping the show in Boston, to little avail.
The Broadway production, directed by Fred F. Finklehoffe and choreographed by Tony Charmoli, opened on April 18, 1955 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, where it ran for 176 performances. The cast included real-life sisters Jane and Betty Kean as Wynne and Elsey, Mark Dawson as Bill, and Thelma Carpenter as featured singer Chipolata.
The producers immediately posted the closing notice, but Mark Hellinger owner Brady Farrell decided to keep the show running with his own financing. Broadway columnists Walter Winchell and Ed Sullivan's glowing reports failed to generate much business, and when salaries were cut to keep losses to a minimum, most of the major players quit in protest. After struggling for five months, the show finally closed at a loss of $340,000, $65,000 more than its initial investment.
An original cast recording was released by Decca Records.
In the summer of 1989, the Goodspeed Opera House revived the musical with a new book by Charles Busch, who transformed it into a camp satire of 1950s movie musicals and an affectionate tribute to the genre .