Promises, Promises (musical)
2010 Revival Logo
by Billy Wilder
I. A. L. Diamond
|Productions||1968 Broadway |
1969 West End
1970 US Tour
2010 Broadway revival
2014 San Francisco
|Awards||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music|
Promises, Promises is a musical with music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David and a book by Neil Simon. It is based on the 1960 film The Apartment written by Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond. Wilder also directed the film. 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 musical premiered in 1968 on Broadway with choreography by Michael Bennett and direction by Robert Moore. It starred Jerry Orbach as Chuck Baxter and Jill O'Hara as Fran Kubelik. It closed after 1,281 performances. A West End production opened in 1969 featuring Tony Roberts and Betty Buckley. The cast album won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, and two songs from the show (the title tune and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again") became hit singles for Dionne Warwick.
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, and choreographed by Michael Bennett with Bob Avian as assistant choreographer, the cast featured Jerry Orbach as Chuck Baxter, Jill O'Hara as Fran Kubelik, 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 Tony Roberts recreating his role as Chuck Baxter, Melissa Hart as Fran, and Bob Holiday as Sheldrake performed throughout the United States during the early 1970s. Lorna Luft played Fran Kubelik on Broadway from October 1971 to January 1972. A second national tour starred Will McKenzie as Chuck Baxter; featured ensemble players included Trudi Green, Laurent Giroux, Guy Allen, Dennis Grimaldi, Brandt Edwards, and Patti McKenzie. Another tour starred Donald O'Connor as Chuck Baxter, Betty Buckley as Fran Kubelik, and Barney Martin as Dr. Dreyfuss; featured ensemble players included Laurent Giroux, Carla Lewis, and Dennis Grimaldi.
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.
Regional theatre productions have included a 1993 staging at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. New York City Center Encores! held a staged concert in March 1997, starring Martin Short, Kerry O'Malley, Eugene Levy, Dick Latessa, and Christine Baranski.
- 2014 San Francisco
- 2017 Southwark Playhouse, London
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 ("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.
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 spirits 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, resulting in his desperation 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".
Notable casts and characters
|Original West End
|Chuck Baxter||Jerry Orbach||Tony Roberts||Martin Short||Sean Hayes|
|Fran Kubelik||Jill O'Hara||Betty Buckley||Melissa Hart||Kerry O'Malley||Kristin Chenoweth|
|J.D. Sheldrake||Edward Winter||James Congdon||Bob Holiday||Terrence Mann||Tony Goldwyn|
|Dr. Dreyfuss||A. Larry Haines||Jack Kruschen||Dick Latessa||Dick Latessa|
|Marge MacDougall||Marian Mercer||Kelly Britt||Christine Baranski||Katie Finneran|
- Chuck Baxter - An office worker
- Fran Kubelik - A restaurant waitress
- J.D. Sheldrake - A personnel manager
- Dr. Dreyfuss - A neighbor
- Marge MacDougall - A bar acquaintance
- Dobitch, Kirkeby, Eichelberger, and Vanderhof
- Vivien, Miss Polansky, and Miss Wong
- Karl - Fran's brother
- Mrs. Sheldrake
- Miss Olsen
+ Added for the 2010 revival
Songs cut in the out-of-town tryouts included: "Tick Tock Goes The Clock," "We Did The Right Thing," "Loyal, Resourceful And Cooperative," "Wouldn't That Be A Stroke Of Luck," "Hot Food," "What Am I Doing Here?"
Songs written for the show but not used included: "Let's Pretend We're Grown Up," "Phone Calls," "In The Right Kind Of Light."
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."
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|
|Grammy Award||Best Musical Theatre Album||Burt Bacharach||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|
In Popular Culture
The title song, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Knowing When To Leave," "Whoever You Are (I Love You)," and "Wanting Things," were all featured on Dionne Warwick's Scepter LP Promises, Promises which was released in 1968 before the show opened on Broadway. The first two listed were both international hits for Dionne Warwick in the US and Canada (No. 6 and No. 1, respectively).
"I'll Never Fall in Love Again" was also a hit Bobbie Gentry in the UK (No. 1) and "Christmas Day" was recorded by Johnny Mathis for his third Christmas album Give Me Your Love for Christmas (1969). The title song and "Turkey Lurkey Time" was featured on Glee.
- 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" Archived 2008-10-25 at the Wayback Machine, Playbill, October 22, 2008
- Jones, Kenneth."Finneran, Goldwyn and Ashmanskas Will Star in Promises, Promises" Archived 2009-12-20 at the Wayback Machine.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 Archived 2011-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
- 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
- "Promises, Promises at San Francisco Playhouse". Retrieved 2014-12-10.
- Cast southwarkplayhouse.co.uk
- Taylor, Paul. Review The Independent, 18 January 2017
- "Promises, Promises – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
- "Promises, Promises Original West End Cast - 1969 West End". www.broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
- "Brantley, Ben. "Rediscovering 1960's Sexual Liberation". The New York Times. March 22, 1997". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
- "Promises, Promises - Broadway Musical - 2010 Revival". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
- Cox, Gordon. variety.com, May 3, 2010
- Gans, Andrew."Outer Critics Circle Awards Noms Announced; Memphis, Royal Family Top List" Archived 2013-11-02 at the Wayback Machine 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
- Dominic, Serene. The Little Red Book of Burt Bacharach, New York: Schirmer; London: Music Sales, 2002. ISBN 0-8256-7280-5
- 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