Burt Bacharach and Hal David, whose pop songs pretty much defined the mid-to-late 1960s and early 1970s, only wrote one Broadway show, Promises, Promises, which opened at the Shubert Theatre on December 1, 1968, for a great run of 1,281 performances. There may have been many reasons for the success of the show, which starred Jerry Orbach and Jill O’Hara.
The solidly attractive (and slyly diverting) book by Neil Simon was based on the Oscar®-winning screenplay for The Apartment, by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, already a double guarantee of popularity; the score contained many memorable tunes by Bacharach and David, including “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” which became charted hits; and Broadway was badly in need of a blockbuster. More importantly, however, its musical style, diverging from the standards set by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe, augured well for the future of Broadway as a new area for pop music to explore and invade. That was before Stephen Sondheim and Company redefined what the American musical theatre would become in the following decades. It took 42 years for Promises, Promises to return to New York, opening at the Broadway Theatre on April 25, 2010. With stellar turns by Sean Hayes as the big-corporation employee whose idea on how to get ahead in business consists of lending his bachelor apartment to his married bosses, and by Kristin Chenoweth as the cafeteria waitress with whom he falls in love even though she is having an affair with the personnel director, and with Rob Ashford in charge of choreography and overall staging, the musical proves that it is still as fresh and vibrant as it was when it was first created. Of the Masterworks Broadway Original Cast Recording of the 2010 revival of Promises, Promises, Burt Bacharach writes: “Hearing this score 40 years later, I modestly must say, I like it and I love the way it comes to life on this record. Solidly produced, solidly performed.” Bacharach is not alone: in December 2010 the album was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Listen and sing along to the Grammy nominated cast recording below.