Carry Nation premiered in New York on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre on October 29, 1932 and starred Esther Dale, who had been known principally as a singer up to that time. The show was produced by Dale’s husband, the writer and theater producer Arthur J. Beckhard, and was directed by stage actress Blanche Yurka. The show was playwright McGrath’s only Broadway play and closed after just 30 performances.
Despite its being a flop, the show was notable for having launched the Broadway careers of supporting actress Mildred Natwick and the actors Jimmy Stewart, Myron McCormick and Josh Logan, who had known one another at Princeton University where the three men were members of the University Players theater company. At the time, they were rooming in New York with a fourth University Player alumnus, Henry Fonda. Logan also served as assistant director to Blanche Yurka in the production. The show had originated in summer stock, and some of the young players from the earlier staging were carried over into the New York production in small roles.
Esther Dale received glowing reviews from the New York critics for her portrayal of Carry (sic). In addition to Dale, the featured performers included Leslie Adams, Donald Foster, Daisy Belmore, Byron McGrath, John Parrish, Ernest Pollock and Fannie Bell De Knight.
The story line of the play followed the chronology of the prohibitionist leader's life, beginning with her birth in 1846 in Kentucky to a zealously pious father, her marriage to a chronic drunk, a second marriage to a country preacher, her public campaign against Demon Rum and her infamous marches culminating in the axing of booze barrels. The story concluded with her final appearance before a Town Hall gathering in Tennessee in 1910.