Promises, Promises (musical)
2010 Revival Logo
|Basis||Film The Apartment screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond|
1969 West End
2010 Broadway Revival
|Awards||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music|
Promises, Promises is a musical based on the 1960 film The Apartment. The music is by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David, and book by Neil Simon. Musical numbers for the original Broadway production were choreographed by Michael Bennett. Robert Moore directed, and David Merrick produced. The story concerns a junior executive at an insurance company who seeks to climb the corporate ladder by allowing his apartment to be used by his married superiors for trysts.
The original Broadway production premiered in 1968, with Jerry Orbach as Chuck Baxter and Jill O'Hara and ran for 1,281 performances. A London production opened in 1969 featuring Tony Roberts and Betty Buckley. The cast album won the Grammy Award for best cast recording, and two songs from the show—"I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and "Promises, Promises"—became hit singles for Dionne Warwick.
Broadway (1968-1972) 
After a tryout in Washington, D.C., the show premiered on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on December 1, 1968, and closed on January 1, 1972 after 1,281 performances. Directed by Robert Moore, choreographed by Michael Bennett with Bob Avian as assistant choreographer, the cast featured Jerry Orbach as Chuck Baxter, Jill O'Hara as Fran and Edward Winter as J. D. Sheldrake. Featured in small or ensemble roles were Kelly Bishop, Graciela Daniele, Ken Howard, Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie, Frank Pietri, Margo Sappington, and Marian Mercer. A national tour starring Melissa Hart as Fran performed throughout the United States during the early 1970s.
West End (1969) 
Broadway revival (2010-2011) 
The revival opened at the Broadway Theatre on April 25, 2010, after previews starting on March 27. Directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, the revival starred Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, Brooks Ashmanskas, Katie Finneran and Tony Goldwyn. The Bacharach-David songs "I Say a Little Prayer", a 1967 million-selling hit written for Dionne Warwick, and "A House Is Not a Home" were added to the score.
Due to pregnancy, Katie Finneran departed the role of Marge on October 10, 2010, and was replaced by Saturday Night Live veteran Molly Shannon. Hayes, Chenoweth and Shannon remained with the production until its closing on January 2, 2011. The show had 291 performances and 30 previews.
Other productions 
Regional theatre productions have included a 1993 staging at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. City Center Encores! held a staged concert in March 1997, starring Christine Baranski and Martin Short.
Act I 
Chuck Baxter is an ambitious bachelor and junior executive for a large insurance company, Consolidated Life, who expresses his frustrations and hopes for career advancement in ("Half as Big as Life"). To curry favor with higher-ups in the company, he allows his apartment to be used for their romantic trysts in return for promises of promotion ("Upstairs"). Chuck has his own eye set on Fran Kubelik, a waitress in the company cafeteria whom he's always admired from a distance. While talking together she wonders if she will ever find someone to share her life with. Chuck hopes that she might notice him ("You'll Think of Someone").
J.D. Sheldrake, the company's powerful personnel director, notices the glowing reviews written by Chuck's superiors and deduces the reason for them. He requests sole use of the apartment for his affairs in exchange for Chuck's long-awaited promotion and tickets to a basketball game ("Our Little Secret"). (In the 2010 revival, the song "I Say a Little Prayer For You" was added for a scene in which Fran tells female workmates about flowers she has received from a new "mystery individual".) Chuck asks Fran to attend the basketball game with him, and she agrees to meet him there after first having a drink with her soon-to-be ex-lover ("She Likes Basketball").
Fran's lover turns out to be the married Sheldrake. Fran wants to end the relationship, but Sheldrake talks her into spending the evening with him ("Knowing When to Leave"). Though Fran stands him up, Chuck forgives her. When he informs the other executives that his apartment is no longer available for their use, they express dismay ("Where Can You Take a Girl?"). Meanwhile, Sheldrake wonders why he is drawn to affairs ("Wanting Things"). The scene shifts to the company Christmas party, where everyone is enjoying themselves ("Turkey Lurkey Time"). Miss Olsen, Sheldrake's secretary, reveals to Fran that she is simply the latest in a long line of Sheldrake's mistresses. The first-act curtain falls as Fran is driven to misery ("A House is Not a Home" in the 2010 revival), and Chuck discovers that Fran is the one Sheldrake has been taking to his apartment.
Act II 
A despondent Chuck spends Christmas Eve trying to drink away his troubles at a bar, where he meets another tipsy lonelyheart, Marge MacDougall, who agrees to come back to his apartment ("A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing"). In the meantime, at Chuck's apartment, Fran confronts Mr. Sheldrake about his earlier affairs. While he admits to the affairs, he declares his love for Fran, but tells her that he must leave in order to catch his train home to spend Christmas Eve with his family. A despairing Fran discovers Chuck's sleeping pills and takes the whole bottle ("Whoever You Are").
When Chuck arrives with Marge, he discovers Fran on his bed. After quickly disposing of Marge, a frantic Chuck gets his neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss, to come over and together they save her life. The next morning Chuck calls Sheldrake to let him know what happened. Sheldrake says he can't leave for the city without his wife knowing and asks Chuck to take care of Fran ("Christmas Day").
Over the next few days Chuck and Dreyfuss try to keep Fran's sprits up to prevent a relapse into suicidal behavior ("A Young Pretty Girl Like You"). Chuck and Fran play gin rummy and discuss their problems, growing closer ("I'll Never Fall In Love Again"). Mr. Kirkeby, one of Chuck's former 'clients', discovers that Fran has been staying at Chuck's apartment, so as revenge for cutting him and the others off from using the apartment he tells Fran's overly protective brother where she has been staying. Karl Kubelik then comes to the apartment to collect her, and believing that Chuck is the cause of her current state he punches Chuck.
Miss Olsen soon discovers that Sheldrake's actions led to Fran almost killing herself. She quits her job and tells Mrs. Sheldrake all about her husband's affairs. She leaves him to spend full-time trying to woo Fran back. Sheldrake asks for the keys to Chuck's apartment again on New Year's Eve to take Fran there. Chuck refuses and quits his job rather than allow Sheldrake to take Fran to his apartment ever again ("Promises, Promises").
Deciding that he has to get away, Chuck begins packing to move elsewhere when Fran comes to see him. Sheldrake had told her that Chuck had refused him access and quit, and she realizes that Chuck is the one who really loves her. As they resume their earlier game of gin, he declares his love for her, to which she replies, "Shut up and deal".
- Chuck Baxter - An office worker (a warm, friendly comic actor with strong singing voice). Baritone
- Fran Kubelik - a restaurant waitress (winning smile, cute rather than glamorous, powerful broad range singing voice, good diction.)Soprano/ Belter
- J.D. Sheldrake - a personnel manager (the heavy, good actor who sings.) Baritone
- Dr. Dreyfuss - a neighbour (exceptional character comic, sings 1 number with Chuck.)Tenor
- Marge MacDougall - A bar acquaintance (good character woman, minor singing.)Mezzo Soprano
- Dobitch, Kirkeby, Eichelberger, and Vanderhof, light character men who sing in quartet.
- Vivien, Miss Polansky, and Miss Wong,
- Karl - Fran's brother
- Mrs. Sheldrake
- Miss Olsen
Musical numbers 
+ Added for the 2010 revival
From The New York Times: "Though the work featured memorable dance sequences by a choreographer on the rise named Michael Bennett, what really set it apart was its score, written by the solid-gold pop composer Burt Bacharach with lyrics by Hal David. Mr. Bacharach introduced to Broadway not only the insistently rhythmic, commercial-jingle buoyancy of 1960's soft-core radio fare, but also a cinematic use of Teflon-smooth, offstage backup vocals."
Songs from the musical include the title tune, which was an international hit for Dionne Warwick, released before the show's December 1968 Broadway opening, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," a hit for Warwick in the US and Canada (No. 6 and No. 1, respectively) and for Bobbie Gentry in the UK (No. 1), "Knowing When To Leave" (also recorded by Warwick), "She Likes Basketball" and "Turkey Lurkey Time," a dance number featuring McKechnie, Lee and Sappington. Warwick also recorded "Whoever You Are (I Love You)" and "Wanting Things" in 1968 before the show opened for her Scepter LP "Promises, Promises."
Awards and nominations 
Original Broadway production 
|1969||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Jerry Orbach||Won|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Jill O'Hara||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical||Larry Haines||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Marian Mercer||Won|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Robert Moore||Nominated|
|Best Choreography||Michael Bennett||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music||Burt Bacharach||Won|
|Outstanding Performance||Marian Mercer||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Jill O'Hara||Won|
2010 Broadway revival 
|2010||Tony Award||Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Sean Hayes||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Katie Finneran||Won|
|Best Choreography||Rob Ashford||Nominated|
|Best Orchestrations||Jonathan Tunick||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Katie Finneran||Won|
|Outstanding Sound Design||Brian Ronan||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Sean Hayes||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Dick Latessa||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Katie Finneran||Won|
|Outstanding Choreographer||Rob Ashford||Nominated|
|2011||Grammy Award||Best Musical Show Album||Nominated|
- Dominic, p. 199
- "Promises, Promises listing" guidetomusicaltheatre.com, retrieved April 12, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth and Gans, Andrew. "Producers Hope to Bring Promises, Promises Back to Broadway", Playbill, October 22, 2008
- Jones, Kenneth."Finneran, Goldwyn and Ashmanskas Will Star in Promises, Promises".playbill.com, December 17, 2009
- Gans, Andrew.Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes Make Promises on Broadway Beginning March 27.playbill.com, March 27, 2010
- Broadway Revival of Promises, Promises to Close
- Klein, Alvin. "'Promises, Promises' In Goodspeed Revival", The New York Times, November 7, 1993
- Brantley, Ben. "Rediscovering 1960's Sexual Liberation", The New York Times, March 22, 1997
- Cox, Gordon. variety.com, May 3, 2010
- Gans, Andrew."Outer Critics Circle Awards Noms Announced; Memphis, Royal Family Top List" playbill.com, April 26, 2010
- O'Neil, Tom." 'Memphis' and 'Red' Win Outer Critics Circle, as Do 'Cage' and 'Fences'"Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2010
- Promises, Promises at the Internet Broadway Database
- Internet Broadway Database listing, 2010
- Listing with plot and production data from guidetomusicaltheatre.com
- Barnes, Clive. The New York Times 1968 review reprinted in Brantley, Ben, The New York Times Book of Broadway, p. 177, Macmillan, 2001 ISBN 0-312-28411-X
- The New York Times review of a 1984 dinner-theatre production