| Pins and Needles is a musical revue with a book by Arthur Arent, Marc Blitzstein, Emmanuel Eisenberg, Charles Friedman, David Gregory, Joseph Schrank, Arnold B. Horwitt, John Latouche, and Harold Rome and music and lyrics by Harold Rome.
The International Ladies Garment Workers Union was using the Princess Theatre in New York City as a meeting hall. Several members talked the union heads into sponsoring an inexpensive revue with a cast made up of ILGWU workers and only two pianos in the orchestra pit. 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.
Pins and Needles looked at current events from a pro-union standpoint. Skits spoofed everything from Fascist European dictators to bigots in the DAR. Word-of-mouth was so enthusiastically positive that the cast abandoned their day jobs and the production expanded to a full performance schedule of eight shows per week. New songs and skits were introduced every few months to keep the show topical.
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.
Originally written for a small theatrical production, the first production of "Pins and Needles" was directed by Samuel Roland. After a 2 week professional run, it was adapted for performances by members of the then-striking International Garment Workers' Union as an entertainment for its members. Because Roland was associated with left-wing causes, he was asked by ILGWU president David Dubinsky to withdraw. The better-known ILGWU production was directed by Charles Friedman and choreographed by Benjamin Zemach, it opened on November 27, 1937 and ran 1108 performances. The cast included Harry Clark, who continued his acting career with roles in The Skin of Our Teeth, One Touch of Venus, Call Me Mister, Kiss Me, Kate, and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?.
In commemoration of the show's 25th Anniversary in 1962, Columbia Records released a studio recording of the score featuring newcomer Barbra Streisand.