A bright and slick big business satire of the 1960s, this musical comedy features the songs Brotherhood of Man, Coffee Break, The Company Way and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. J. Pierrepont Finch uses the titular book to rise from window washer to chairman of the World Wide Wicket Company, but he has to fend off rivals, backstabbing coworkers and his own craving for a cup of joe in this irreverent and tuneful romp.
A young window washer with a lot of ambition, J. Pierrepont Finch is working on a scaffold, washing windows with his squeegee in one hand and the book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Tryin the other. The disembodied “Book Voice” tells him that he will succeed if he follows the book’s lessons. Excited, he sings the titles of the chapters as his scaffold descends.
The success of Shepard Mead’s satirical 1952 book inspired playwright Willie Gilbert to create a dramatic adaptation, but it was not produced until 1955. Then theatrical agent Abe Newborn brought the work to producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin, who were already having great success with the 1950 Broadway adaptation of Guys and Dolls. They enlisted the bookwriters and composers of that hit, Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser to rework the material for a stage musical. Rehearsals began in August 1961, and the show opened on October 14, 1961 at the 46th Street Theatre, starring Robert Morse as the confident window washer who rises to the top and Rudy Vallee as a megaphone crooner whose success is his own inspiration. The production was a huge critical and commercial success, and the film version, released in 1967, made stars of Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee.