Today in labor history, Nov. 27, 1937, the pro-labor musical revue, “Pins & Needles,” opens on Broadway with a cast of International Ladies Garment Workers Union members.
The International Ladies Garment Workers Union used the Princess Theatre in New York City as a meeting hall. The union sponsored an inexpensive revue with ILGWU workers as the cast and two pianos. Because of their factory jobs, participants could rehearse only at night and on weekends, and initial performances were presented only on Friday and Saturday nights. The original cast was made up of cutters, basters, and sewing machine operators.
According to theater critic John Kenrick, “Pins and Needles” is “the only hit ever produced by a labor union, and the only time when a group of unknown non-professionals brought a successful musical to Broadway.” The Cradle Will Rock composer Marc Blitzstein was among the contributors for the book, “Pins and Needles.”