How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is one of only eight musicals ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and it’s also the first Broadway musical to be turned into a movie. Featuring peppy ’60s tunes and needle-sharp satire that holds up half a century later, this fanciful tale of corporate climbers battling power, sex, office politics, backstabbing colleagues, caffeine addiction, and matters of the heart still packs a punch.
With a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert and music by Frank Loesser (who penned the songs to Guys and Dolls, Once Loved, and The Four Window Girl), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Try tells the story of J. Pierrepont Finch, a window washer who reads a little handbook on business etiquette and rises from his position in the World Wide Wicket Company to become chairman of the board. It opened on October 14, 1961, at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 1417 performances before closing March 6, 1965.
In the days when many musicals spring from original concept (Stop the World I Want to Get Off, for example), it was a rarity to find a Broadway show that had been adapted from a book. But How to Succeed in Business was no ordinary book; it was a satire of self-help books and it was a best seller. It was that popularity that drew the attention of Abe Newborn, who brought it to the producers of Guys and Dolls and other musicals with the hope that they would produce it on stage.