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Promises, Promises is a musical based on the 1960 film The Apartment written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. The music is by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David, and book by Neil Simon. Musical numbers for the original Broadway production were choreographed by Michael Bennett; Robert Moore directed. The story concerns marital intrigue.

The show was originally produced on Broadwaymarker in 1968, running for 1,281 performances. A London production opened in 1969 featuring Tony Roberts and Betty Buckley. The cast album won the Grammy Award for best cast recording, and a song from the show, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", became a hit single for Dionne Warwick.


After a tryout in Washington, D.C. the show premiered on Broadway at the Shubert Theatremarker on December 1, 1968, and closed on January 1, 1972 after 1,281 performances. Directed by Robert Moore, choreographed by Michael Bennett with Bob Avian as assistant choreographer, the cast featured Jerry Orbach as Chuck Baxter, Jill O'Hara as Fran and Edward Winter as J. D. Sheldrake. Featured in small or ensemble roles were Graciela Daniele, Ken Howard, Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie, Margo Sappington, and Marian Mercer.

The show was first produced in London's West Endmarker at the Prince of Wales Theatremarker in 1969, featuring Tony Roberts and Betty Buckley. It ran for 560 performances. An Australian production opened the same year.

Regional theatre productions have included a 1993 staging at the Goodspeed Opera Housemarker in Connecticutmarker.

City Center Encores! held a staged concert in March 1997, starring Christine Baranski and Martin Short. A reading of the show was held in October 2008 with Sean Hayes and Anne Hathaway.

Divadlo Pod Palmovkou (Palmovka Theatre)

It was recently announced that producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will produce a Broadway revival at the Broadway Theatremarker in the spring of 2010, directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford and starring Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth.


Chuck is a young, ambitious, likeable, charming bachelor who works for the Consolidated Life Insurance Company ("Half as Big as Life"). The chief executives of the company use his apartment for extra curricular romantic trysts, all promising Chuck repayment in the form of rapid promotion within the company ("Upstairs"). In the company restaurant works a waitress whom Chuck has always admired from a distance, Fran Kubelik. They chat, and she considers whether she will ever find someone with whom to share her life. Chuck hopes that she might notice him ("You'll Think of Someone").

J.D. Sheldrake, the personnel director of the company, approaches Chuck with a request for the use of his apartment, with the usual promises ("Our Little Secret"). Sheldrake's assignation is with Fran - who, in the meantime, has found some common ground with Chuck ("She Likes Basketball"). Of course, knowing that she is having an affair with Sheldrake complicates things considerably for him. After their meeting, Fran is dumped by Sheldrake and she tries to commit suicide in Chuck's bedroom ("Knowing When to Leave"). Dr. Dreyfus, a doctor, saves her life but suspects that Chuck was the cause of the suicide attempt. Meanwhile, Sheldrake questions why he is often tempted by extra-marital dalliances ("Wanting Things").

Christmas approaches and the office celebrates ("Turkey Lurkey Time"). Over at Clancy's Lounge Bar, a confused Chuck chats with Marge MacDougall, an acquaintance from the bar ("A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing"). Fran is still dreaming of a perfect man ("Whoever You Are").

The men in the office discuss their affairs ("Where Can You Take a Girl?"). Sheldrake decides to resume his affair with Fran. As Christmas approaches ("Christmas Day"), Miss Olsen, Sheldrake's former mistress, decides to tell his wife about his little trysts. Meanwhile, Chuck and Dr Dreyfus try to keep Fran's spirits up ("A Young Pretty Girl Like You"). But both Fran and Chuck are really in despair ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again"). Still, Chuck has a plan. Sheldrake meets Chuck to sort things out regarding the use of the apartment, and Chuck gives him the keys--not to the apartment, but to the executive washroom. Chuck believes he has better things to do than work at Consolidated Life Insurance Company and that all the promises he has been given are worth nothing ("Promises, Promises"). Instead, he believes that playing cards at New Year with Fran for instance will bring him much more joy and it is him that she finds when she arrives at the apartment.

Musical numbers

Act One
  • "Overture"
  • "Half as Big as Life"
  • "Grapes of Roth"
  • "Upstairs"
  • "You'll Think of Someone"
  • "Our Little Secret"
  • "She Likes Basketball"
  • "Where Can You Take a Girl?"
  • "Knowing When to Leave"
  • "Wanting Things"
  • "Turkey Lurkey Time"

Act Two
  • "A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing"
  • "Whoever You Are"
  • "Christmas Day"
  • "A Young Pretty Girl Like You"
  • "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"
  • "Promises, Promises"


From The New York Times: "Though the work featured memorable dance sequences by a choreographer on the rise named Michael Bennett, what really set it apart was its score, written by the solid-gold pop composer Burt Bacharach with lyrics by Hal David. Mr. Bacharach introduced to Broadway not only the insistently rhythmic, commercial-jingle buoyancy of 1960's soft-core radio fare, but also a cinematic use of Teflon-smooth, offstage backup vocals."

The best-known songs from the musical include the title song, which was a hit for Dionne Warwick, released before the show's December 1968 Broadway opening, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" (also a hit for Warwick and for Bobbie Gentry in the UK), "Knowing When To Leave", "She Likes Basketball" and "Turkey Lurkey Time," a dance number featuring McKechnie, Lee and Sappington.

Awards and nominations

Awards won

Drama Desk Award
  • Outstanding Music: Burt Bacharach
  • Outstanding Performance: Marian Mercer; Jerry Orbach
Theatre World Award: Marian Mercer; Jill O'Hara
Tony Award
  • Best Actor in a Musical: Jerry Orbach
  • Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Marian Mercer


Tony Award
  • Best Actress in a Musical: Jill O'Hara
  • Best Choreography: Michael Bennett
  • Best Direction of a Musical: Robert Moore
  • Best Featured Actor in a Musical: A. Larry Haines; Edward Winter
  • Best Musical


  1. Dominic, p. 199
  2. Promises, Promises at the NODA website
  3. Promises, Promises, Australian Stage Online 2008
  4. Klein, Alvin. "'Promises, Promises' In Goodspeed Revival", The New York Times, November 7, 1993
  5. Brantley, Ben. "Rediscovering 1960's Sexual Liberation", The New York Times, March 22, 1997
  6. Jones, Kenneth and Andrew Gans. "Producers Hope to Bring Promises, Promises Back to Broadway", Playbill, October 22, 2008
  7. Star keeps 'Promises'


Dominic, Serene. The Little Red Book of Burt Bacharach, New York: Schirmer; London: Music Sales, 2002. ISBN 0825672805

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