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Theatre / Promises, Promises

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A 1968 musical adaptation of Billy Wilder's classic film The Apartment, with book by Neil Simon and songs written by the pop composer team of Burt Bacharach (music) and Hal David (lyrics). The musical follows the exploits of junior insurance executive Chuck Baxter, a hapless schmuck who attempts to work his way up the corporate ladder by allowing his superiors the use of his apartment for their romantic trysts, all while trying to win the heart of Fran Kubelik, a waitress whom he's long admired from a distance.

The show was notable for being the Bacharach-David team's only foray into musical theater—Bacharach was, by his own admission, something of a control freak regarding the show, and seemed to feel that without him personally conducting the orchestra every night, there was no guarantee the music would sound the way he intended. Regardless of how he felt about theater, the show was well-received and spawned a couple hit songs (the title number, as well as "I'll Never Fall In Love Again"). Notable among the original Broadway cast members was a 33-year old Jerry Orbach as Chuck, in a performance that won him a Tony Award.

A 2010 revival with Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth received mixed reviews but was still commercially successful. Despite that, it closed in January 2011 due to Hayes and Chenoweth deciding to not re-up their contracts and the producers deciding to not recast the leads.

Not to be confused with Promises! Promises!, a 1963 Sex Comedy film starring Jayne Mansfield.

This play contains examples of:

  • Executive Excess: J.D. Sheldrake follows the same beats as his film counterpart. A powerful personnel manager at the insurance agency Chuck Baxter works at, Sheldrake is also a serial philander, who regularly cheats on his wife with multiple women and is eager to exploit Baxter's apartment to do so with his latest target Fran Kubelik. However, as opposed to the originals depiction as a manipulative sleazy executive, this version of Sheldrake is portrayed as somewhat more sympathetic and complex, with him getting an entire song ("Wanting Things") devoted to him trying to understand why he is constantly drawn to affairs and can't be content with the family he has.
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: Averted—the goofy dance number "Turkey Lurkey Time" is instead located at the end of Act One, while the second act opens with a more plot-relevant song.
  • "I Want" Song: "Wanting Things", naturally.
  • Lemony Narrator: Chuck's narration tends to be a little...offbeat, to say the least.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Karl was the husband of Fran's sister in The Apartment, but the play made him Fran's brother, instead.
  • Rewritten Pop Version: Both the title song and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" were recorded by Dionne Warwick and became hits during the original run.
  • The '60s: The revival is actually set earlier in the 1960s than the original, presumably to capitalize upon the popularity of Mad Men.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The role of Marge MacDougall is only seen in two scenes in the entire show (both of which occur at the top of Act II). Yet the role is well-known as a scene-stealer and two actresses who have played the role on Broadway (Marian Mercer and Katie Finneran) have won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Chuck's responses to Fran in "You'll Think of Someone", due to the fact that he Cannot Spit It Out...until after she leaves, that is.