How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
(Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser: Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert: Based on the novel by Shepherd Mead)
Produced at the 46th Street Theatre, New York, 14 October 1961 with Robert Morse (Finch), Rudy Vallee (Biggley), Bonnie Scott (Rosemary), Charles Nelson Reilly (Frump) and Virginia Martin (Hedy). Produced at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 28 March 1963 with Warren Berlinger, Billy de Wolfe, Patricia Michael, David Knight and Eileen Gourlay. Produced at the Theatre de Paris, Paris as Comment Reussir Dans les Affairs Sans Vraiment Se Fatiguer 1964 in an adaptation by Raymond Castans with Jacques Duby, Andre Luguet, Evelyne Dandry, Jean-Pierre Rambal and Arlette Didier. Revived in October 1994 at the La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California and opening in March, 1995 at the Richard Rogers Theatre starring Matthew Broderick with Megan Mullally, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Jonathan Freeman, Victoria Clark, Luba Mason, Gerry Vichi, Lillias White and Ronn Carroll with Walter Cronkite as the Voice of the Narrator.
A film version was produced by United Artists in 1967 with Morse, Vallee, Michele Lee, Anthony Teague and Maureen Arthur.
This satire on 'big business' tells the story of a young man who finds there is 'room at the top' and with the help of a book of simple instructions manages to get there accompanied by his ever-faithful girl whose love for him triumphs over commercialism. Received with great critical acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Our hero, J. PIERREPONT FINCH, is discovered washing the windows of the World Wide Wicket Company, more engrossed in the book he is reading than the task in hand. While the cradle carrying him descends. the BOOK VOICE encourages him to start his upward climb with the aid of a few simple rules.
Megan Mullally, Victoria Clark, Matthew Broderick in a scene from the Broadway revival show March 23, 1995 (Photo: Joan Marcus)
Inside the building, he gas off to an inauspicious start by knocking over J.B. BIGGLEY, the President - J.B. to his enemies (he has no friends). Turning this encounter to his advantage and encouraged by ROSEMARY, a delectable young secretary who is smitten at first sight, Finch insinuates himself into the office of the Personnel Manager, BRATT, and thence to a job in the mail room. There he is made unwelcome by J.B.'s nephew - the odious BUD FRUMP, who has a lot of ambition and little talent for work - but impresses the mail room head, the conscientious and long-serving MR. TWIMBLE (THE COMPANY WAY).
Our hero is not destined to spend long at such lowly levels and, quickly learning the book rules, by-passes the head of the mail-room job to become a junior executive under GATCH, Head of Plans and Systems. The mature MISS JONES, J.B.'s secretary, comes under Finch's spell and lets slip some useful information on J.B.'s background which gives more power to his elbow. The arrival of J.B.'s cutie-pie, ex-night-club cigarette girl HEDY LA RUE, intent on improving her career (A SECRETARY IS NOT A TOY), provides Finch with an opportunity to depose the lady-killer Gatch.
While Frump tries all ways to trip him and Rosemary all ways to ensnare him (IT'S BEEN A LONG DAY), Finch rapidly climbs the ladder, The end of Act I finds him engaged to Rosemary and appointed Vice-President In Charge Of Advertising - which, as the Book Voice points out, is a dangerous place to be.
THE COMPANY in a scene from the Broadway Revival starring Matthew Broderick.
(Photo: Joan Marcus)
Rosemary, now Finch's secretary but playing second fiddle to his career ambitions, is on the point of resigning but is persuaded by her friend SMITTY and the rest of the girls to reconsider.
The object of her affections faces a critical deadline to come up with a revolutionary advertising plan (1 BELIEVE IN YOU) and is deluded by Frump into proposing a TV treasure hunt. Confident this idea will receive a scornful reception, Frump looks forward to Finch's downfall, but J.13. seizes on it to solve his own problem - keeping Hedy U Rue happy - and Finch survives.
When Hedy drops a clanger on the live TV programme by revealing where the treasure is hidden, Finch again seems destined for the chop but appeals to his betters' finer instincts (THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN). Fate sticks by him in the shape of MR. WOMPER, the Chairman of the Board; having also started his career washing windows, he takes an immediate fancy to our hero and, coincidentally, to Hedy La Rue, thus solving both their career problems. As for Frump, he inherits the window washing business, and the book.
1a OPENING — ACT ONE
- HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING … (Finch)
- HAPPY TO KEEP HIS DINNER WARM … (Rosemary
3a. GOOD MORNING (Entrance of Secretaries)
- COFFEE BREAK … (Frump, Smitty & Chorus)
4a. FRUMP ON THE PHONE
- DUET "THE COMPANY WAY" … (Twimble & Finch)
- THE COMPANY WAY (Reprise) … (Frump & Chorus)
- ROSEMARY'S PHILOSOPHY
- A SECRETARY IS NOT A TOY … (Bratt, Jenkins, Frump, Boys
9a. THE EXECUTIVES' EXIT
- BEEN A LONG DAY … (Smitty, Rosemary, Finch & Chorus)
- BEEN A LONG DAY (Reprise) … (Frump, Biggley,
11a. SATURDAY MORNING
- GRAND OLD IVY … (Biggley, Finch)
- GRAND OLD IVY (Reprise)
- HEDY'S WALK
14a. ONWARD AND UPWARD
- PARIS ORIGINAL … (Rosemary, Girls, Smitty)
- THE COMPANY WAY (A la Dance Band)
16a. THE EXECUTIVE LANDING
- ELEVATOR DANCE
17a. ETHEREAL GRANDEUR
- ROSEMARY … (Finch, Rosemary)
- RIP THE CHIPMUNK … (Biggley & Finch)
- FINALE — ACT ONE … (Rosemary, Finch, Frump)
- OPENING — ACT TWO
- CINDERELLA, DARLING … (Smitty & Girls)
- I HAVE RETURNED
- HAPPY To KEEP HIS DINNER WARM … (Rosemary)
- LOVE FROM A HEART OF GOLD … (Biggley, Hedy)
26a. THE LUNCH DATE
- I BELIEVE IN YOU … (Finch and male chorus)
- T. V. ANNOUNCEMENT
- THE YO-HO-HO
- HEDY'S FANFARE
30a. - THE FIRST CLUE
30b. - DISASTER
- I BELIEVE IN YOU (Rosemary)
- BROTHERHOOD OF MAN … (Finch, Womper, Biggley, Miss Jones, and Male Chorus)
- MORE DOOM
34a. HALLELUJAH … (Girls)
- FINALE … (Company)
- EXIT Music
18 Male, 8 Female.
- FINCH - Our hero. A young man whose meteoric progress from window cleaner to company chairman owes little to his qualifications and much to his wits, single-mindedness and the aid of a good instruction manual.
- ROSEMARY - Our heroine. A pretty young secretary of above-average qualifications, in danger of being wasted when she sets her career sights on being Mrs Finch.
- J.B. BIGGLEY - The boss; President of the World Wide Wicket Company. A ruthless, consequently successful, businessman, though still a college lad at heart.
- BUD FRUMP - The villain; the boss's nephew. An obnoxious young man who can't make it to the top in spite of his devious machinations and family connections.
- HEDY LA RUE - The femme fatale. Ex-night-club cigarette girl, would-be secretary under the boss's protection.
- MISS SMITH (SMITTY) - A big-hearted, if cynical, working girl. A good secretary and likely to remain just that.
- MISS JONES - J.B. Biggley's secretary, who enjoys the respect her position and mature years command.
- BRATT - The Personnel Manager, adept in the main skill required for holding his job - agreeing with the boss.
- MR TWIMBLE - An example of how not to succeed; a loyal company man with 25 years' service spent climbing from mail-room worker to head of the mail-room.
- GATCH - An almost-successful executive with a fatal penchant for the ladies.
- MR WOMPER - A highly successful man with a small stature but the biggest job - Chairman.
- THE BOOK VOICE - Our hero's unseen mentor.
Executives, Secretaries, TV Announcer, Company Policemen,Scrubwomen, Singers And Dancers
Scenes and Settings:
The entire action takes place in the new Park Avenue office building of World Wide Wicket Company, Inc.
Reed 1: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Sax, Clarinet
Reed 2: Oboe, Cor Anglais, Alto Sax, Clarinet
Reed 3: Piccolo, Flute, Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Reed 4: Tenor Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Reed 5: Baritone Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Horn, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trombones
2 Percussion, Harp
4 Violins, Cello, Bass
Original and Revival Cast Albums available