How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is justly considered as one of the definitive musical comedies of the modern Broadway era. The 1962 soundtrack captures much of the stage presentation's acerbic satire, as well as all of Frank Loesser's stunning score, on what would turn out to be his final endeavor on the Great White Way. Little more than a week after the show's October 14, 1961, debut at the 46th Street Theatre, the play's company documented this original cast recording in the acoustically-friendly environs of Webster Hall. Building on the success of the stage presentation, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was propelled into the pop album charts, where it landed within the Top 20. The storyline was adapted from a novel by Shepard Mead, whose intimate knowledge of corporate politics stemmed from actual workplace experiences as an advertising executive. The central character's (J. Pierrepont Finch) rise from washing windows to being a CEO at the headquarters of the World Wide Wickets Company is brought to life under the supervision of Abe Burrows. In fact, it was Burrows who would eventually convince Loesser to participate in this project. Without a doubt, Robert Morse's riveting depiction of the over-ambitious Finch garnered the production much of its acclaim, and he was awarded one of the seven Tonys that the initial run rightfully collected. Other notable cast members are crooner Rudy Vallée, portraying company president J.B. Biggley, and the affable Charles Nelson Reilly, whose re-creation of Bud Frump -- Biggley's insufferable and otherwise excruciating nephew -- was also a Tony winner. The melodies are uniformly stellar and reflect Loesser's wide range, from lighter fare such as "Coffee Break" and "Company Way" to the affective balladry of "I Believe in You" and the ensemble arrangements on "Brotherhood of Man" and the brief yet poignant "Finale." In 2003, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was reissued with supplementary bonus tracks, including Walter Cronkite's narration gleaned from the 1995 new Broadway cast How to Succeed in Business... CD as well as interview excerpts from Morse, Reilly, and Loesser.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
|How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, musical|