Show History



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.


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.


  • 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).