On April 25, the revival of PROMISES, PROMISES opens on Broadway! The romantic comedy has a awkward and genuine book by Neil Simon (who also penned the books for SWEET CHARITY, THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG, and THE GOOD-BYE GIRL), swinging pop music by Burt Bacharach, and sweet lyrics by Hal David, and is based on the 1960 Billy Wilder movie, THE APARTMENT.
Sean Hayes (best known for his portrayal of Jack McFarland on the hit comedy WILL & GRACE) is shy and earnest Chuck Baxter, an unremarkable office worker who lets married executives use his Manhattan apartment in exchange for promotions. But when Chuck realizes that the arrangement doesn’t bring him happiness – and comes between him and the woman he has a crush on, played by the incomparable Kristin Chenoweth – he’s forced to take a stand.
PROMISES, PROMISES is an off-beat, charming little show that makes full use of its ensemble. The ensemble dance numbers provide a perfect opportunity to emphasize Chuck’s isolation and quiet loneliness, while keeping the show’s momentum going and giving the audience rousing dance numbers. “Turkey Lurkey Time,” performed at the office Christmas party, is a perfect example of this:
Donna McKechnie, seen in the center, would later win a Tony for her role as Cassie in A CHORUS LINE, and the choreography for this number (created by the legendary Michael Bennett) has become famous.
PROMISES, PROMISES is somewhat unusual for a musical theatre romantic comedy in that neither Chuck nor his love interest, Fran, have a big moment where they plainly declare their love for each other in song. Rather, they have an intimate bonding moment with “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” heard here with Jill O’Hara and Jerry Orbach (THE FANTASTICKS, CHICAGO, 42ND STREET):
The song is in the tradition of indirect musical theatre love songs, where a character insists she’s not in love when she very clearly is. “People Will Say We’re In Love” from OKLAHOMA! and “I Won’t Send Roses” from MACK AND MABEL are two other examples of this kind of song: