How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying
Power, sex, ambition, greed.... It's just another day at the office in this classic satire of big business.
Show Essentials
10
Roles
+ Ensemble
PG
Rated
2
Acts

Full Synopsis

Act One

J. Pierrepont Finch, a young window washer with large ambitions, is at work on the windows of the World Wide Wicket Company. He has a squeegee in one hand and a copy of the book, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, in the other. A disembodied voice (the voice of the book) announces that, from the book's lessons, Finch will learn everything that he needs to know to get ahead. Excited, Finch sings the titles of chapter headings in the book ("How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying") as his scaffold descends. He removes his overalls, under which he is wearing a business suit, and steps into an office tableau.

After accidentally knocking down J.B. Biggley, the feared president of the company, Finch announces that he'd like a job. Biggley stuffily refers him to the personnel manager. Rosemary Pilkington, a secretary, is impressed by Finch's boldness. She offers to help him meet Mr. Bratt, the personnel manager, who initially treats Finch brusquely, warming only at the mention of Biggley's name. Finch ingenuously implies that he and Biggley are old friends, causing a marked change in Bratt's attitude. Finch is promptly given a job in the mailroom. One of his fellow workers is Mr. Biggley's nephew, Bud Frump, who never hesitates to use his familial position to get ahead. Rosemary, who dreams of married life in the suburbs with an executive, has taken a liking to Finch and fantasizes about him to her friend, Smitty ("Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm").

A coffee break is called, but the machine has run out of coffee. The caffeine-addicted office workers begin a frenzied dance ("Coffee Break"). Finch feels frustrated at having been with the company for a whole week without discernible advancement. Through Rosemary, Finch meets Miss Jones, Biggley's secretary. He flatters her and makes sure to put in a bad word against Bud Frump.

Twimble, the head of the mailroom, is moving to the shipping department and must choose his successor. He explains to Finch that a lack of ambition, a fear of being fired and an absolute trust in the company's wisdom have kept him happily in the mailroom for 25 years ("The Company Way"). He announces that Finch is his choice to head the mailroom. Finch – as per the book's careful instructions – insists that Bud be given the job instead, for the good of the company. This impresses Twimble and Bratt, so Bratt offers Finch a job as a junior executive in the Plans and Systems Department, which is headed by Gatch. Realizing that he has been outmaneuvered, Frump fumes.

Biggley arranges a secretarial job for his beautiful mistress, Hedy La Rue, formerly the cigarette girl at the Copa. Her entrance attracts the attention of all of the men in the office, prompting Bratt to explain the office policy on flirting ("A Secretary Is Not a Toy").

It is late Friday afternoon, the end of the work week. As they wait for the elevators, the secretaries complain of unwanted attention from their male bosses while the men talk of sales figures. The ever attentive Finch discovers that Mr. Biggley is a proud graduate of Old Ivy. He also learns that Biggley will be returning to the office on Saturday morning to retrieve his golf clubs for a game with Wally Womper, the Chairman of the Board. Rosemary arrives at the elevator with Smitty, who knows that, despite their awkward silences, Rosemary and Finch like each other ("Been a Long Day"). Smitty recommends a dinner special for two at a nearby restaurant, and Rosemary and Finch decide to take advantage of it. After they leave, Bud Frump runs into Hedy and Biggley, who are arguing about her job. Bud surmises the nature of their relationship and threatens to tell his mother, Biggley's sister-in-law, if Biggley doesn't guarantee him a promotion ("Been a Long Day – Reprise"). Biggley is trapped and Frump, like Finch, is on his way up the corporate ladder.

It is Saturday morning. Finch, knowing Biggley is coming to retrieve his golf clubs, shows up at the office before Biggely arrives, creating a mess to give the impression that he has been working there all night. When Biggley arrives, Finch begins "absent-mindedly" humming Old Ivy's fight song, suggesting to Biggley that they are both Old Ivy graduates ("Grand Old Ivy").

Biggley demands that Finch be given his own office and secretary, so Bratt assigns Hedy La Rue to him. The book has warned him about just such inadequate secretarial help – Hedy has many skills, but typing and shorthand aren't among them. When Finch discovers Biggley is Hedy's sponsor, he sends her to Gatch on an errand, knowing that Gatch will make a pass at her. Soon, Finch is sitting at the desk of the now Venezuela-bound Gatch.

Rosemary hopes to win Finch over with her new dress, a Paris original, at the reception for new Advertising Department head, Benjamin Burton Daniel Ovington. When she arrives at the party, Rosemary sees that every woman there is wearing the exact same dress ("Paris Original"). Hedy has had too much to drink, and Biggley orders Bud to take her home.

Hedy goes up to Biggley's office to take a shower. As she showers, Bud tells Finch that Biggley is waiting to see him there. Bud goes off to find Biggley, hoping to trap Finch with Hedy. Hedy finds Finch in the office and makes a play for him but, when she kisses him, he realizes that he loves Rosemary, who enters as Hedy returns to the bathroom. Finch proposes to her ("Rosemary"). As Rosemary is about to accept, Hedy comes out of the bathroom in a towel. Rosemary angrily leaves the office, but returns to announce that Bud and Biggley are just outside the door. Hedy goes back into the bathroom, and Finch and Rosemary embrace as Biggley enters the room – Bud's plan is foiled. Bratt and Ovington enter, looking for Biggley. Ovington is forced to resign after Finch prompts him to reveal that his alma mater is the archrival of Old Ivy. Biggley then makes Finch Vice President in Charge of Advertising, just in time for a big strategy meeting two days later. Biggley departs, leaving Finch and Rosemary alone again. They declare their love for each other as Bud vows to stop Finch's meteoric rise ("Finale – Act One").

Act Two

It is the morning of the big meeting. Rosemary, feeling neglected by Finch, has decided to quit. Smitty and the other women in the office convince her that she can't quit and remind her that she's living their dream of marrying an executive ("Cinderella, Darling").

Finch is quite pleased with his promotion, although the book sternly warns that this new advertising job is a dangerous position. However, as long as he already has the job, the book suggests that the one way to save his situation is to come up with a good idea. Unfortunately, Finch doesn't have one. The book forsees this and suggests that he steal someone else's. It is at this moment that Bud Frump approaches him with the idea for a televised treasure hunt. Delighted, Finch adopts the notion, unaware that Biggley has already heard the idea and shot it down. Finch tries the idea out on Rosemary, who responds by telling Finch that she loves him ("Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm – Reprise").

Hedy, unhappy with her secretarial duties, announces to Biggley that she is quitting. Biggley pleads with her to stay ("Love from a Heart of Gold").

In the executive washroom, Bud assures the other executives that Finch's presentation will flop and end his rapid rise in the company. Finch enters and gives himself a pep talk before the meeting as he washes his hands ("I Believe in You").

Finch presents his idea for a televised treasure hunt/giveaway: he will hide 5,000 shares of company stock in each of the ten company offices around the country, then give the audience weekly clues as to their whereabouts. Biggley doesn't like the idea until Finch explains that each week's clue will be given by the scantily dressed World Wide Wicket Treasure Girl, Hedy La Rue.

During the first television show, Treasure Girl Hedy is asked to swear on a Bible that she doesn't know the location of the treasure. She can't lie: the previous night, Biggley told her that the treasure is located in each of the ten company buildings – a fact that she relates to the entire television audience.

Eager treasure hunters have wrecked the World Wide Wicket office, and the executives, including Chairman of the Board Wally Womper, are waiting in Biggley's office for Finch to appear and hand in his resignation. Rosemary, told by Finch that he'll probably have to go back to washing windows, assures him that she'll still love him... just as Bud arrives to take Finch up to the office.

Finch, about to sign his letter of resignation, reveals that he was a window washer before coming to the company. This immediately draws the admiration and trust of Womper, also a former window washer. Finch adroitly places the blame for the giveaway show on Bud. He also tells Womper that Bud is Biggley's nephew. Womper is about to fire all of the executives when Finch convinces him to spare them, telling him that everybody is part of the human family ("Brotherhood of Man"). Bud Frump, however, is fired and escorted out of the office.

The show ends with an announcement to the employees that Biggley is still the president, that Womper is retiring to travel the world with his new wife, Hedy, and that the new Chairman of the Board is Finch. Finch calls Rosemary to his side as he starts to think about capturing the Presidency of the country. Outside, Bud Frump is seen on a window washing scaffold, reading How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying ("Finale").

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

J. Pierrepont Finch
Our story's protagonist. An irrepressible, clear-eyed, almost puckish hero, he is a window washer who applies for a job at the World Wide Wicket Company and attempts to climb the 'ladder of success.'
Gender: male
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Gatch
A sleazy executive with a penchant for the ladies.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 60
J.b. Biggley
The stuffed-shirt, philandering President of World Wide Wicket. Beneath his ruthless exterior, he is a college lad at heart with a passion for knitting.
Gender: male
Age: 50 to 65
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Rosemary
A secretary at the company who is more interested in finding a man than advancing her career. She becomes Finch's love interest.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: B4
Vocal range bottom: A3
Smitty
A secretary with a painfully dry sense of humor. She is a cynical, working woman who is on the lookout for a man.
Gender: female
Age: 30 to 40
Bud Frump
Biggely's nephew and scheming employee. He is an arrogant sycophant who tries to advance his career by exploiting his family connections.
Gender: male
Age: 18 to 21
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Miss Jones
J.B.'s stuffy secretary who is abrupt and tough, but soft and kind to those who are good to her.
Gender: female
Age: 55 to 65
Vocal range top: Gb5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3
Mr. Twimble
He is a fussy, old-fashioned, yet loyal employee at the company. Supervisor of the mailroom, he believes his success is due to his lack of ambition and ability to remain unnoticed.
Gender: male
Age: 60 to 75
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: C#3
Wally Womper
The company's Chief Executive Officer and a former window-washer.
Gender: male
Age: 55 to 70
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Hedy
A voluptuous, sexually-charged woman adored by all of the men. She may appear dim-witted, but she knows how to manipulate men to get what she wants.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Ensemble
Scrubwomen, Executives, Secretaries
Full Song List
How To Succeed In Business...: How To Succeed
How To Succeed In Business...: Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm
How To Succeed In Business...: Coffee Break
How To Succeed In Business...: The Company Way
How To Succeed In Business...: A Secretary Is Not A Toy
How To Succeed In Business...: Been A Long Day
How To Succeed In Business...: Grand Old Ivy
How To Succeed In Business...: Paris Original
How To Succeed In Business...: Rosemary
How To Succeed In Business...: Cinderella, Darling
How To Succeed In Business...: Love From A Heart Of Gold
How To Succeed In Business...: I Believe In You
How To Succeed In Business...: Brotherhood Of Man

Show History

Inspiration

How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying is based on the book of the same name. Written by Shepherd Mead in 1952, it is a satire of an instruction manual that pokes fun at American corporate life. The book was inspired by Mead's real-life experiences at the Benton & Bowles advertising agency. Like the character, J. Pierrepont Finch, he joined the company as a mailroom clerk who eventually worked his way up to vice president.

With the book a major success in the early 1950s, playwrights, Willie Gilbert and Jack Weinstock, created a dramatic interpretation in 1955, eventually attracting the attention of producers, Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin. Having recent success with the Broadway mounting of Guys and Dolls, Feuer and Martin invited book writer, Abe Burrows, and song writer, Frank Loesser, to the production team.

Productions

How to Succeed..., with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, premiered on Broadway on October 14, 1961, at the 46th Street Theatre. The original production starred Robert Morse, Rudy Vallee and Charles Nelson Reilly, and closed on March 6, 1965, after over 1,400 performances. The West End premiere opened on March 28, 1963, at the Shaftesbury Theatre, running for 520 performances.

The musical's first Broadway revival opened once again at the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers Theatre), on March 23, 1995, featuring performances from Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally. A national tour ran from May 1996 to June 1997. On March 27, 2011, a second revival, celebrating the 50th anniversary, was mounted on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. It starred Daniel Radcliffe, Rose Hemingway and John Larroquette, running until May 20, 2012.

Cultural Influence

  • A film adaptation of How to Succeed... was released in 1967.
  • Book writer, Abe Burrows, adapted the musical into a television special that aired as an "ABC Comedy Special" on June 27, 1975.
  • The success of the musical (and its two revivals), has produced two reprints of Shepherd Mead's original book. The 2011 edition featured a new introduction by Stanley Bing, addressing office life in 2010 and comparing it to that in the 1950s.

Trivia

  • In addition to winning nine Tony Awards, How to Succeed... has been nominated for an additional eleven Tonys. It holds the rare distinction of every one of its Broadway productions being nominated for Best Musical or Best Revival of a Musical.
  • The 2011 revival cast recording was nominated for a Grammy in 2012 for Best Musical Theater Album.
  • Every Broadway production has used a notable celebrity as the recorded voice of the titular book: radio announcer, Carl Princi, for 1961; journalist, Walter Cronkite, for 1995; and journalist and television personality, Anderson Cooper, for 2011.
  • Since 1918, only eight musicals have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Of those eight, six are MTI Musicals: Of Thee I Sing (1932), Fiorello! (1960), How to Succeed... (1962), Sunday in the Park with George (1985) Rent (1996) and Next to Normal (2010).

Critical Reaction

"This splendidly sardonic account of Big Business is an example of perfect musical comedy construction, swift, sharp, jam-packed with characters and incident and clear-headed as it moves unerringly through an interesting and funny story."
– Daily News

"It stings mischievously and laughs uproariously. ...It belongs to the blue chips among modern musicals."
– The New York Times

"Its satire, humor, book, music, lyrics, cast, staging, choreography, setting and general gaiety of spirit combined in a smooth, fast pattern of expert showmanship to make the occasion a delightful event."
– New York Post

Grammy Award

1961 - Best Musical Show Album, Winner (Frank Loesser)
1995 - Best Musical Show Album, Nominee (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)

Tony® Award

1962 - Actor, Musical Featured, Winner (Charles Nelson Reilly)
1962 - Actor, Musical Star, Winner (Robert Morse)
1962 - Best Musical, Winner (How to Succed in Business Without Really Trying)
1962 - Author, Musical Play, Winner (Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert)
1962 - Best Author of a Musical, Winner (Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock & Willie Gilbert)
1962 - Composer, Nominee (Frank Loesser)
1962 - Best Composer, Nominee (Frank Loesser)
1962 - Conductor And Musical Director, Winner (Elliot Lawrence)
1962 - Best Actor in a Musical, Winner (Robert Morse)
1962 - Director Of A Musical, Winner (Abe Burrows)
1962 - Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Winner (Charles Nelson Reilly)
1962 - Musical, Winner (Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert (book), Frank Loesser (music and lyrics), Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin (producers))
1962 - Best Direction Of A Musical, Winner (Abe Burrows)
1962 - Musical Producer, Winner (Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin)
1962 - Best Conductor and Musical Director, Winner (Elliot Lawrence)
1962 - Best Producer of a Musical, Winner (Feuer & Martin)
1995 - Revival Of A Musical:, Nominee (Dodger Productions & Kardana Productions, Inc., The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Nederlander Organization (producers))
1995 - Best Choreography, Nominee (Wayne Cilento)
1995 - Best Direction Of A Musical, Nominee (Des McAnuff)
1995 - Choreography, Nominee (Wayne Cilento)
1995 - Direction Of A Musical, Nominee (Des McAnuff)
1995 - Best Revival Of A Musical, Nominee (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)
1995 - Leading Actor In A Musical, Winner (Matthew Broderick)
1995 - Best Actor in a Musical, Winner (Matthew Broderick)

NY Drama Critics Circle Award

1962 - Best Musical, Winner (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)

Pulitzer Prize

1962 - Best New American Drama, Winner (Abe Burrows & Willie Gilbert Jack Weistock, Frank Loesser)

Drama Desk Award

1995 - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Winner (Matthew Broderick)
1995 - Outstanding Musical, Nominee (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)
1995 - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Winner (Matthew Broderick)
1995 - Outstanding Musical, Nominee ()

Outer Critics Circle Award

1995 - Best Actor in a Musical, Winner (Matthew Broderick)
1995 - Best Revival Of A Musical, Nominee (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)

Connect

Billing

Based on How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying by Shepherd Mead

Requirements

You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
FRANK LOESSER and ABE BURROWS'
 
"HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING"
 
 
Book by
ABE BURROWS,
JACK WEINSTOCK and WILLIE GILBERT
Music and Lyrics by
FRANK LOESSER
 
Based upon the book by SHEPHERD MEAD
 
Originally presented by CY FEUER and ERNEST H. MARTIN in Association with
FRANK PRODUCTIONS.
 
****Any change of any kind in the manuscript, stage business or performance of the Play made by anyone shall be deemed to be a part of the Play and shall belong to the Licensor and the Licensor shall not be obliged to make payment to any person suggesting or making such changes unless they have entered into a bona fide written collaboration agreement with the Licensor to do so.****
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOK30
PIANO CONDUCTOR'S SCORE1
PIANO VOCAL SCORE1
STUDY GUIDE1

Production Resources

Resource
CUSTOMIZABLE SHOW POSTER
CUSTOMIZABLE SHOW POSTERS
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON-10/CS
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON?
LOGO PACK
LOGO PACK DIGITAL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT SMALL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT X-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT XX-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD SMALL
ORCHEXTRA
PERFORMANCE ACCOMPANIMENT RECORDING
PRODUCTIONPRO-DIGITAL SCRIPT/SCORE
REFERENCE RECORDING
REHEARSAL ACCOMPANIMENT RECORDING
REHEARSCORE APP
STAGE MANAGER SCRIPT
STAGE WRITE APPLICATION
VIRTUAL STAGE MANAGER

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
BASS
CELLO
DRUMSBELLS , CHIMES , SAND BLOCK , TAMBOURINE , TYMPANI , VIBRAPHONE , WOOD BLOCK , XYLOPHONE
GUITAR
HARP
HORN
REED 1ALTO SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , FLUTE , KAZOO , PICCOLO
REED 2ALTO SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , ENGLISH HORN , KAZOO , OBOE
REED 3CLARINET , FLUTE (OPTIONAL) , KAZOO , PICCOLO (OPTIONAL) , TENOR SAXOPHONE
REED 4BASS CLARINET , CLARINET , KAZOO , TENOR SAXOPHONE
REED 5BARITONE SAXOPHONE , BASS CLARINET , CLARINET , KAZOO
TROMBONE
TROMBONE 2
TROMBONE 3
TRUMPET
TRUMPET 3
VIOLIN

ALTERNATE ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
ALT: PC
ALT:BASS
ALT:DRUMS BELLS , BONGO , CHIMES , COWBELL , FINGER CYMBAL , HAND CYMBAL , SANDPAPER , SUSPENDED CYMBAL , TAMBOURINE , TIMBALES , TYMPANI , VIBRAPHONE , WOOD BLOCK , XYLOPHONE
ALT:PIANO CELESTE , PIANO
ALT:REED 1 ALTO FLUTE , ALTO SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , FLUTE , KAZOO , PICCOLO
ALT:REED 2 ENGLISH HORN , KAZOO , OBOE , TENOR SAXOPHONE
ALT:REED 3 ALTO SAXOPHONE , BASS CLARINET , CLARINET , Eb CLARINET , FLUTE , KAZOO
ALT:REED 4 BARITONE SAXOPHONE , BASSOON , CLARINET , KAZOO
ALT:TROMBONE
ALT:TRUMPET 1&2