Finch is a window washer who finds a book called "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which he uses to get a job at World Wide Wickets and move up in the company. Frump, a co-worker he left behind on the way up, tries to sabotage Finch as he gets higher and higher in the organization, but in the end Finch is forced to make a few choices without the help of his book.
In 1952, Shepherd Mead's satirical book, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, became a bestseller. Playwright Willie Gilbert and fellow playwright Jack Weinstock created a dramatic interpretation in 1955 that was unproduced for five years. Agent Abe Newborn brought the work to the attention of producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin, with the intention of retooling it as a musical. Feuer and Martin had great success with the 1950 adaptation of Guys and Dolls and brought in the creative team from that show to work on How to.... Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser set to work on the new adaptation, with rehearsals beginning in August 1961. Burrows collaborated on the book with Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, also serving as director. Their new adaptation became even more satirical and added romance to the story. Loesser wrote both music and lyrics for the show, which was orchestrated by Robert Ginzler.
The original Broadway production credited the choreography to an obscure dance director named Hugh Lambert, while the much better-known Bob Fosse received only a "musical staging by..." credit. Abe Burrows explains this in his autobiography Honest, Abe. While How to Succeed... was in its early development, producer Cy Feuer attended a trade show and was extremely impressed by an elaborate dance number created by Lambert, prompting Feuer to hire Lambert to choreograph the new musical. According to Burrows, it soon became clear in rehearsals that Lambert's creative abilities were completely used up in that one elaborate dance number. Bob Fosse was brought in to replace him, but Fosse was unwilling to hurt Lambert's career by having him fired. Lambert's trade-show dance number was recycled as the "Treasure Hunt" dance in How to Succeed..., while Fosse agreed to take a "musical staging" credit for choreographing all the other dance numbers. Burrows also reveals that another crisis arose in rehearsals when former recording star Rudy Vallee wanted to interpolate some of his hit songs from the 1930s.
The show opened on Broadway on October 14, 1961 at the 46th Street Theatre, and closed on March 6, 1965 after 1,417 performances. The cast starred Robert Morse as Finch, Bonnie Scott as his secretary Rosemary, Charles Nelson Reilly as Bud Frump, and Rudy Vallee as the company president. Virginia Martin played Hedy LaRue.
West End (1963-1964)
The West End production opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on March 28, 1963 and ran for 520 performances. It was also directed by Burrows and Bob Fosse, and featured a new London cast. Warren Berlinger and Billy De Wolfe starred as Finch and Biggley respectively, with Patricia Michael as Rosemary, Josephine Blake as Smitty, David Knight as Bud Frump, Olive Lucius as Miss Jones, Bernard Spear as Mr. Twimble, and Eileen Gourlay as Hedy La Rue.
Broadway revival (1995-1996)
A Broadway revival opened at the original theatre, now renamed Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 23, 1995 and closed on July 14, 1996 after 548 performances. It was directed by Des McAnuff and choreographed by Wayne Cilento. Matthew Broderick starred as Finch, and Rosemary was played by Megan Mullally. In a pre-recorded performance, Walter Cronkite was the Book Voice. The replacements for Mullally and Broderick were Broderick's future wife, Sarah Jessica Parker as Rosemary and John Stamos as Finch. The wardrobe was designed by Susan Hilferty and is on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Florida.
US National Tour (1996-1997)
A national tour of 'How To Succeed' ran beginning in Baltimore in May 1996 and ended in Milwaukee in June 1997. Other stops included Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle. The national tour cast featured Ralph Macchio as J. Pierrepont Finch, Shauna Hicks (Rosemary Pilkington), Richard Thomsen (J.B. Biggley), Pamela Blair (Hedy LaRue), and Roger Bart (Bud Frump). Both Macchio and the production played to favorable reviews.
Broadway revival (2011-2012)
Daniel Radcliffe was featured in a reading in December 2009, with Rob Ashford as director and choreographer. Radcliffe starred in the revival for ten months, which began previews at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on February 26, 2011, with the official opening on March 27, 2011. Rob Ashford directs and choreographs. Other cast includes Rose Hemingway as Rosemary Pilkington, Mary Faber as Smitty, Tammy Blanchard as Hedy La Rue, Christopher Hanke as Bud Frump, and John Larroquette as J.B. Biggley. Anderson Cooper has recorded the Voice of the Book for the adaptation. The production was nominated for nine 2011 Tony Awards, including for director-choreographer Rob Ashford and as Best Revival of a Musical. John Larroquette won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.
Darren Criss succeeded Radcliffe in the role of J. Pierrepont Finch for a limited three week engagement from January 3–22, 2012. Criss was awarded the Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for Favorite Replacement for his performance in this role. Beau Bridges replaced John Larroquette as J.B. Biggley starting January 3, 2012. Nick Jonas took over the role of Finch on January 24, 2012. Jonas was nominated for a 2012 Broadway Beacon Award for his performance in this role. Michael Urie replaced Christopher Hanke in the role of Bud Frump starting on January 24, 2012.
The production closed on May 20, 2012 after 30 previews and 473 regular performances.
How To Succeed - J. Pierrepont Finch
Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm - Rosemary Pilkington
Coffee Break - Smitty, Bud Frump & Chorus
The Company Way - Finch & Twimble
The Company Way (Reprise) - Bud, Twimble & Company
A Secretary is Not a Toy - Bratt, Bud & Men
Been a Long Day - Smitty, Finch & Rosemary
Been a Long Day (Reprise )- Bud, J.B. Biggley & Hedy LaRue
Grand Old Ivy - Finch & Biggley
Paris Original - Rosemary, Smitty, Mrs. Jones & Girls
Rosemary - Finch & Rosemary
Act I Finale - Finch, Rosemary & Bud
Cinderella, Darling - Smitty & Girls
1995 revival replacement: How to Succeed (Reprise)
Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm (Reprise) - Rosemary
Love From a Heart of Gold - Biggley & Hedy
I Believe in You - Finch & Men
I Believe in You (Reprise) - Rosemary
Brotherhood of Man - Finch, Wally Womper, Mrs. Jones & Men
Finale - Company
J. Pierrepont Finch - a window washer who applies for a job at the World Wide Wicket Company.
Rosemary Pilkington - a secretary at the World Wide Wicket Company who instantly falls in love with Finch.
J.B. Biggley - The boss of the World Wide Wicket Company.
Bud Frump - Biggley's arrogant and lazy nephew.
Hedy LaRue - Biggley's attractive and dim-witted mistress.
Miss Jones - Biggley's immovable secretary who is charmed by Finch.
Book voice - the "voice" of the book How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying which narrates the musical
Mr. Bert Bratt - Personnel manager
Mr. Twimble - Head of the mailroom for 25 years; finally gets promoted to the shipping department.
Smitty - Rosemary's best friend and fellow secretary at the World Wide Wicket Company
Mr. Milton Gatch - head of the Plans and Systems department
Miss Krumholtz - a secretary of Mr. Gatch, then J. Pierrepont Finch.
Mr. Benjamin Burton Daniel Ovington - prospective head of the advertising department until Finch reveals that he has graduated from Biggley's college's archrival; he is often referred to in the show by his initials, "BBDO".
Mr. Wally Womper - the Chairman of the World Wide Wicket Company. He is traditionally played by the same actor as Twimble.
Executives and Secretaries - Chorus
How to Succeed ... (1961-10-Richard Rodgers Theatre-Broadway)Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Richard Rodgers Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis) Durée : 3 ans 4 mois 3 semaines Nombre : 3 previews - 1417 représentationsPremière Preview : jeudi 12 octobre 1961Première : samedi 14 octobre 1961Dernière : samedi 06 mars 1965Mise en scène : Abe Burrows • Chorégraphie : Hugh Lambert • Producteur : Commentaires longs: Nominated for eight Tony Awards and won for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Conductor and Musical Director, Best Producers of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Robert Morse, and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Charles Nelson Reilly. It also received the Best Musical Award from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
How to Succeed ... (1963-03-Shaftesbury Theatre-London)Type de série: Original London
Théâtre: Shaftesbury Theatre (Londres - Angleterre) Durée : Nombre : 520 représentationsPremière Preview : jeudi 28 mars 1963Première : jeudi 28 mars 1963Dernière : InconnuMise en scène : Abe Burrows • Chorégraphie : Bob Fosse • Hugh Lambert • Producteur : Avec : Finch ... Warren Berlinger / J. B. Biggley ... Billy De Wolfe / Frump ... David Knight / Gatch ... Laurie Webb / Peterson ... Michael Billington / Johnson ... Roy Jameson / Jenkins ... Peter Dalton / Mathews ... Keith Galloway / Tackaberry ... David Henderson-Tate / Rosemary ... Patricia MichaelCommentaires longs: C'est avec ce musical que le Shaftesbury Theatre rénové a réouvert…
How to Succeed ... (1995-03-Richard Rodgers Theatre-Broadway)Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Richard Rodgers Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis) Durée : 1 an 3 mois 3 semaines Nombre : 16 previews - 548 représentationsPremière Preview : vendredi 10 mars 1995Première : jeudi 23 mars 1995Dernière : dimanche 14 juillet 1996Mise en scène : Des McAnuff • Chorégraphie : Wayne Cilento • Producteur : Commentaires longs: A Broadway revival opened at the original theatre, now re-named Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 23, 1995 and closed on July 14, 1996 after 548 performances. It was directed by Des McAnuff and choreographed by Wayne Cilento. Matthew Broderick starred as Finch, and Rosemary was played by Megan Mullally. In a pre-recorded performance, Walter Cronkite was the Book Voice. One of the later replacements for Mullally was Broderick's future wife, Sarah Jessica Parker. The wardrobe was designed by Susan Hilferty and is on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Florida.
A national tour of "How To Succeed" ran beginning in Baltimore in May 1996 and ended in Milwaukee in June of 1997. Other stops included Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle. The national tour cast featured Ralph Macchio as J. Pierrepont Finch, Shauna Hicks (Rosemary Pilkington), Richard Thomsen (J.B. Biggley), Pamela Blair (Hedy LaRue), and Roger Bart (Bud Frump). Both Machhio and the prodcution played to favorable reviews.
How to Succeed ... (1996-06-Takarazuka Grand Theatre-Takarazuka) Flower TroupeType de série: Takarazuka
Théâtre: Takarazuka Grand Theatre (Takarazuka - Japon) Durée : 2 mois Nombre : Première Preview : vendredi 21 juin 1996Première : vendredi 21 juin 1996Dernière : dimanche 25 août 1996Mise en scène : ???? ???? • Chorégraphie : ???? ???? • Producteur :
How to Succeed ... (1996-11-Takarazuka Theatre-Tokyo) Flower TroupeType de série: Takarazuka
Théâtre: Takarazuka Theatre (Tokyo - Japon) Durée : 3 semaines Nombre : Première Preview : samedi 02 novembre 1996Première : samedi 02 novembre 1996Dernière : jeudi 28 novembre 1996Mise en scène : Chorégraphie : Producteur :
How to succeed ... (1999-02-Landor Theatre-Londres)Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Landor Theatre (Londres - Angleterre) Durée : 3 semaines Nombre : Première Preview : vendredi 26 février 1999Première : vendredi 26 février 1999Dernière : samedi 20 mars 1999Mise en scène : Guy James • Chorégraphie : Ralph Beaumont • Producteur : Avec : Adam Keast (J. Pierpoint Finch), Don Fellows (J.B.Biggeley), Mark Sangster (Bud Frump), Katie Milton (Rosemary), Alison Carter (Hedy la Rue), Claire Carpenter (Smitty), Georgie Fellows (Miss Krumholz)Commentaires : This fringe revival was notable for the appearance of veteran American performer, Don Fellows, together with his youngest daughter, Geòrgie. Whilst the general view was it had been cleverly adapted to the much smaller space, there was universal condemnation for the pre-recorded musical accompaniment - created by synthesisers.
How to succeed ... (2011-02-Al Hirschfeld Theatre-Broadway)Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Al Hirschfeld Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis) Durée : 1 an 1 mois 3 semaines Nombre : 30 previews - 473 représentationsPremière Preview : samedi 26 février 2011Première : dimanche 27 mars 2011Dernière : dimanche 20 mai 2012Mise en scène : Rob Ashford • Chorégraphie : Rob Ashford • Producteur : Avec : J. Pierrepont Finch ... Daniel Radcliffe / J. B. Biggley ... John Larroquette / Narrator [recorded voice only] ... Anderson Cooper / Rosemary ... Rose Hemingway / Bud Frump ... Christopher J. Hanke / Hedy LaRue ... Tammy Blanchard / Twimble ... Rob Bartlett / Wally Womper ... Rob Bartlett / Smitty ... Mary Faber / Miss Jones ... Ellen HarveCommentaires longs: Daniel Radcliffe was featured in a reading in December 2009, with Rob Ashford as director and choreographer. Radcliffe is now starring in the revival, which began previews at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on February 26, 2011, with the official opening on March 27, 2011. Rob Ashford directs and choreographs. Other cast includes Rose Hemingway as Rosemary Pilkington, Mary Faber as Smitty, Tammy Blanchard as Hedy La Rue, Christopher Hanke as Bud Frump, and John Larroquette as J.B. Biggley. Anderson Cooper has recorded the Voice of the Book for the adaptation. The production is nominated for nine 2011 Tony Awards, including for director-choreographer Rob Ashford and as Best Revival of a Musical.
The show cancelled three performances in July, due to Radcliffe's promotional duties for the final Harry Potter film. However, Warner Bros. - the producers of the film - agreed to buy out the theatre for those three nights, so the production wouldn't lose any money.
The June 22nd performance was cancelled due to the death of a stagehand backstage just prior to the start of the show. It was later reported that heroin was found in his workspace.Presse : "Charm-free revival." Ben Brantley for New York Times / "Radcliffe is a likable but very boyish presence. ... He's waxen and not animated enough. Director-choreographer Rob Ashford's production is bright, cheerful and energetic, that's for sure." Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News / "Radcliffe is back, front and center. ... it's giddy fun to watch him shake his little tush in "Brotherhood of Man." Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post / "High-octane, hard-working revival. Radcliffe doesn’t catch fire until late in the second act of Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows’s delectable satire of Big Business, ‘50s-style. But there’s more than enough to divert the eye and ear along the way." Jeremy Gerald for Bloomberg / "The show ends up frenetic and dull all at the same time." David Sheward for Back Stage / "His (Radcliffe's) performance is committed and decent, though not glowing. ...If you regard the show primarily as a showcase for Radcliffe – he's plainly meant to be its draw – the production's shortcomings might not matter so much" Robert Feldberg for The Record / "Daniel Radcliffe succeeds nicely as a musical comedy performer in the okay Broadway revival." Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey / "quaint can be charming and agreeable, which is generally where this medium-wattage 50th anniversary revival lands. Charming and agreeable are adjectives that also apply to the performer around whom it was packaged, Daniel Radcliffe." David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter / "Featuring a dazzling Daniel Radcliffe and a strong Broadway debut for John Larroquette, "Business" takes its place at the executive level in a season of musical-comedy hits. .....Production lapses are easily overlooked, thanks to the ministrations of the expert cast led by Radcliffe, who repeatedly brings down the house with a smile and a barely raised brow. " Steven Suskin for Variety
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