Production History

  • Broadway (1961-1965): The original Broadway staging opened at the 46th Theatre on October 14, 1961, to immediate critical and popular success. At the forefront of critics’ adulations was Robert Morse’s performance. Morse, “rubber-faced” and charming, performed Finch with such physical dexterity that he was essentially defined by the role for the rest of his acting career. As one reviewer described it: “Mr. Morse is charming–in an alarming sort of way…Whether he is darting around high on a windy penthouse or taking off from the horizon as in a very spiritual movie, he is a magnificent (if cunning) shambles. Of course, Mr. Morse is a spastic. But they’ll probably never be able to cure it, and he’ll go right on being as funny as he is at the 46th street.”

President Kennedy chose How to Succeed as his first presidential theatrical outing in January 1962. According to Burrows, he liked the show so much that he recommended it at a cabinet meeting. A contingent of the American Mercury program astronauts, led by John Glenn, also attended the show, as well as New York Giants quarterback YA Tittle, much to Morse’s delight. The production ran for 1,417 performances. For more images, visit the New York public library digital archives.

Awards: Eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Author, and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Robert Morse); 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Cast: Robert Morse: Finch; Charles Nelson Reilly: Bud Frump; Bonnie Scott: Rosemary; Virginia Martin: Hedy LaRue; Rudy Vallee: Biggley.

Production Team: Direction: Abe Burrows; Book: Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert; Music: Frakn Loesser; Lyrics: Frank Loesser; Musical Staging: Bob Fosse; Choreography: Hugh Lambert.

  • West End (1963-64): The production opened at Shaftesbury Theatre and ran for 520 performances. Also directed by Burrows, it featured a new cast, which included: Warren Berlinger: Finch; Billy De Wolf: Biggley; Patricia Michael: Rosemary; David Knight: Bud Frump.
  • Film (1967): Released by United Artists and directed by David Swift, many of the original Broadway performers reprised their roles for the film adaptation, including Morse and Vallee. Although some of the musical’s songs were cut, including “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm,”  “Cinderella Darling,” and “Paris Original,” the film stayed true to the heart of the stage version, with no small help from Morse’s over-the-top performance.
  • Broadway Revival (1995-1996): The production opened at the 46th Street Theatre again, where it ran for 548 performances.

Awards: 1995 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Matthew Broderick); Nominated for four other awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Cast: Matthew Broderick: Finch; Megan Mullally: Rosemary; Ronn Carroll: Biggley; Walter Cronkite: Book Voice.

Production Team: Direction: Des McAnuff; Choreography: Wayne Cilento; Wardrobe: Susan Hilferty.

  • Broadway Revival (2011-2012): The production opened at the Al Hirschfield Theatre and ran for 473 performances.

Awards: 2011 Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (John Larroquette); Nominated for nine other awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Daniel Radcliffe), and Best Direction of a Musical; Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (John Larroquette), and four other nominations.

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe: Finch (later replaced by Darren Criss and Nick Jonas); Rose Hemmingway: Rosemary; Tammy Blanchard: Hedy LaRue; John Larquette: Biggley; Anderson Cooper: Book Voice.

Production Team: Direction: Rob Ashford; Choreography: Rob Ashford; Costume Design: Catherin Zuber; Lighting Design: Howell Binkley.


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