How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1961
J. Pierpont Finch, an ambitious, clear-eyed window washer, stands perched on a scaffold suspended outside the headquarters of World Wide Wickets singing the praises of his guidebook to corporate success – How To.
Entering the huge offices, Finch bumps into J.B. Biggley, the president of the company. J.B. berates him but Finch, not knowing who he is, doesn’t let it faze him. All of this is observed by the pretty secretary Rosemary Pinkleton who is instantly smitten with Finch. She offers to help him find a job at World Wide Wickets any way she can. She leaves to find her best friend Smitty, the Director of Personnel’s secretary. Before she can return, Finch succeeds through a series of misunderstandings (and strategic use of Mr. Biggley’s name) in getting a position in the mailroom. When Rosemary arrives with Smitty, they find Finch already employed. Rosemary envisions the life she will share with him – Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm.
A week later, Bud Frump, J.B.’s obnoxious nephew who works alongside Finch in the mailroom, finds himself and the other employees without their morning fix of caffeine – Coffee Break.
At work, Finch gets some words of advice from the long-employed head of the mailroom, Mr. Twimble – The Company Way.
When he is offered a promotion within the mailroom, Finch, on the advice of his trusty guidebook to success, turns it down and magnanimously suggests the position be given to his arch enemy Bud Frump. Frump, not knowing any better, is thrilled and promises that like Mr. Twimble before him, he too will play it The Company Way (Reprise).
Finch’s generosity toward Frump pays off. He is given a promotion and becomes a junior executive under Mr. Gatch, Vice-President of Plans and Systems. Rosemary is thrilled at how quickly Finch is moving up the corporate ladder and she invites herself out to lunch with him. While she is getting her things, Mr. Gatch comes in and invites Finch out to lunch on his expense account. Finch happily agrees, leaving a very disappointed Rosemary alone. Meanwhile J.B. has prevailed upon Mr. Bratt, the Director of Personnel, to hire a “close friend,” the voluptuous Miss Hedy LaRue, as a secretary. When she appears (The Entrance Of Hedy LaRue) every executive begs to have Miss LaRue assigned to him but Mr. Bratt reminds them that A Secretary Is Not A Toy.
At the end of the day, Finch, using all of his abundant charm, asks Miss Jones, J.B.’s notoriously cold and humorless secretary, about J.B.’s college affiliations. At the elevator he runs into Rosemary, and with Smitty’s guidance they make plans for dinner – Been A Long Day.
Bud Frump overhears an incriminating conversation between J.B. and Hedy LaRue, and decides that he will use it later to his own advantage – Been A Long Day (Reprise).
The following morning, Saturday, J.B. comes to the office to get his golf clubs and encounters Finch (who had entered moments earlier spreading empty coffee cups and other pieces of trash around his desk) slumped over his desk “asleep.” J.B. is impressed that Finch has worked through the night. Finch “unconsciously” hums a melody and when J.B. recognizes the tune as the “Groundhog” song from Old Ivy, the two of them reminisce about their Alma Mater and its arch rivals the “Chipmunks” – Grand Old Ivy.
Hedy LaRue has been assigned to Finch as his secretary. His guidebook tells him that the smaller the secretarial skills the bigger her protector at the company. Needless to say Hedy LaRue has virtually no secretarial skills. Finch asks her to take a file up to Mr. Gatch and to give it to him personally. Mr. Gatch, unaware of Miss LaRue’s provenance, is “impressed” by her and they begin dating. In a few days, Mr. Gatch has been transferred to Venezuela and Finch has replaced Gatch as Vice-President of Plans and Systems.
Rosemary has been made secretary to the new Vice-President of Advertising, for whom there is going to be a formal reception. She decides she has to look especially fetching for Finch and splurges on a new dress – Paris Original.
At the reception, Bud Frump, still on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder, sees an opportunity to rid himself of Finch. He sets a trap for Finch to be caught alone in J.B.’s office with Hedy LaRue. When Hedy insists on kissing Finch, he hears music and knows that he is in love – with Rosemary. When Rosemary enters and finds Finch and Hedy in a clinch she is devastated – but not enough to bring ruin on his career. She refuses to believe Finch’s protest that he is really in love with her until he asks her to marry him and then . . . well, she hears music too.
J.B. catches Finch alone with Rosemary (instead of with Hedy LaRue) and Frump’s plan is spoiled. To make matters worse for Frump, when J.B.learns that the new Vice-President of Advertising is a “Chipmunk” he fires him and gives Finch his job and Rosemary becomes his secretary. While it would appear all is right between Finch and Rosemary, she is dismayed when in the middle of their embrace he phones the door painter to have his name painted in gold on the door. Meanwhile Frump, his plan spoiled, vows revenge! – Finale To Act 1.
Hurt by Finch’s inattention to her, Rosemary has quit her job and broken up with him. Smitty begs her to reconsider her decision – Cinderella, Darling.
Now that he is the Vice-President of Advertising, Finch needs to come up with “the big idea.” Frump, saying he wants to bury the hatchet between them, offers an idea for a TV giveaway game show named the “World Wide Wicket Treasure Hunt.” Finch is suspicious, but Frump assures him that there is no malice involved and that he hasn’t said a word of this idea to J.B. – Finch, it seems, believes him.
Rosemary and Finch make up. He asks her what the giveaway show should give away. Her answer that she loves him and doesn’t care if he gives away the whole company gives Finch an idea, and he proposes that the giveaway be stock in World Wide Wickets.
In J.B.’s office, Frump reminds J.B. how much he had disliked his Treasure Hunt Giveaway idea. Hedy LaRue has decided to leave World Wide Wickets and get a job demonstrating skin cream in a department store. J.B. begs her to stay and she gives him 24 hours to come up with a suitable job for her – Love From A Heart Of Gold.
Outside of J.B.’s office, Hedy and Finch bump into one another and she tells him that she is thinking of quitting. Finch suggests that maybe there is a way they can help one another.
In the Executive Washroom, prior to the big Boardroom meeting, all of the executives are worried about the threat to their jobs posed by Finch. At the same time Finch gives himself a pep talk – I Believe In You.
The Big Meeting. Finch enters and dazzles the brass with images of Vesuvius erupting, J.B.’s picture on the covers of Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. When J.B. hears the Treasure Hunt Giveaway idea he hates it but when he sees that the Treasure Hunt Girl is, for demonstration purposes only, Hedy LaRue, he changes his mind. J.B. asks everyone but Finch to leave the room, and he and Finch discuss some details. J.B. wants Hedy to be the real Treasure Hunt Girl. Finch agrees. They also agree that they will be the only two people in the world who would know where the prizes (stock certificates) are hidden. Calling the executives back in, J.B. tells them he likes the idea and they, much to Frump’s consternation, approve the Treasure Hunt Giveaway.
On the premiere telecast all is going well until Hedy is asked to swear on a Bible that she doesn’t know where the prizes are hidden. She does know and she tells the whole country that the stock certificates are hidden in the ten World Wide Wicket Buildings across the country. Finch is ruined.
The next day, in what the treasure hunters have left of the Wicket offices, everyone is looking for Finch. But Rosemary promises to stick by him. Frump is triumphant at Finch’s downfall. He summons Finch to J.B.’s office. However, he offers to help Finch escape, but Finch is willing to take what’s coming to him.
Inside J.B. Biggley’s office, J.B. introduces everyone to Mr. Wally Womper, the Chairman of the Board of World Wide Wickets. J.B. informs Womper that they have someone to pin the whole disaster on. Finch, to everyone’s surprise, happily signs a letter of resignation and tells them all that he is going back to his job as a window washer.
At these words Womper becomes interested, after all he started out as a window washer himself. Womper and Finch become Wally and Ponty and Finch “innocently” pins the whole idea on Bud Frump. Womper likes what he is hearing and Finch continues: he jubilantly reminds everyone that we’re all part of one big club, and everyone, even the notoriously cold and humorless Miss Jones, is swept up in the feeling – Brotherhood Of Man.
A foiled Frump is led away. Some days later, J.B. Biggley, still president, assures those gathered that World Wide Wickets is stronger than ever thanks to the brightness and energy of one man – J. Pierpont Finch. Finch gives all the credit to a great man and a great humanitarian – Wally Womper. A newlywed Womper enters with his wife, the former Hedy LaRue. Womper announces that he is retiring as Chairman of the Board, and he and his wife are going to take a honeymoon trip around the world. Finch is announced as his successor but tells the crowd he must get permission from his wife before he accepts. Rosemary tells him, “Darling I don’t care if you work in the mailroom, or you’re Chairman of the Board, or you’re President of the United States, I love you.” The always ambitious Finch smiles: “Say that again.”
“I love you.”
“No, before that.”
Bud Frump appears outside, washing the windows with one hand while reading his guide to corporate success, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, with the other, as the entire company sings The Company Way.
Finch: Robert Morse
Gatch: Ray Mason
Jenkins: Robert Kaliban
Tackaberry: David Collyer
Peterson: Casper Roos
J.B. Biggley: Rudy Vallee
Rosemary: Bonnie Scott
Bratt : Paul Reed
Smitty: Claudette Sutherland
Frump: Charles Nelson Reilly
Miss Jones: Ruth Kobart
Mr. Twimble: Sammy Smith
Hedy: Virginia Martin
Scrubwomen: Mara Landi, Silver Saundors
Miss Krumholtz: Mara Landi
Toynbee: Ray Mason
Ovington: Lanier Davis
Policeman: Bob Murdock
Womper: Sammy Smith
Singers: David Collyer, Lanier Davis, Robert Kaliban, Bob Murdock, Casper Roos, Charlotte Frazier, Mara Landi, Fairfax Mason, Silver Saundors, Maudeen Sullivan.
Dancers: Nick Andrews, Tracy Everitt, Stuart Fleming, Richard Korthaze, Dale Moreda, Darell Notara, Merritt Thompson, Carol Jane Abney, Madilyn Clark, Elaine Cancilla, Suzanne France, Donna McKechnie, Ellie Sommers, Rosemary Yellen.