Promises, Promises


Promises, Promises

Neil Simon, Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Burt Bacharach, Hal David

Full Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy  /  2f, 3m

Book by Neil Simon / Based on the Screenplay The Apartment by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond / Music by Burt Bacharach / Lyrics by Hal David / Produced for the Broadway Stage by David Merrick

A scathing and hilarious satire of the corporate world, Promises, Promises is the exuberant musical adaptation of Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning film The Apartment.

Photo: Joan Marcus

Promises, Promises
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  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    2f, 3m
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Stage & Screen), Christmas/Holiday, Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)
  • NOMINEE: Seven 1969 Tony Awards, including Best Musical
    WINNER! Two 1969 Tony Awards for Best Actor and Best Featured Actress
    WINNER! Two 1969 Theatre World Awards
    WINNER! Three 1969 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Music by Burt Bacharach
    WINNER! 2010 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress
    WINNER! 2010 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress

In New York City in the 1960s, an ambitious accountant named Chuck Baxter lends out his apartment to his supervisors, who need a discreet place for illicit afternoon rendezvous. Miserable and exploited, Chuck finds a beacon of hope in coworker Fran, who is trapped in a romantic predicament of her own. The bittersweet romantic comedy features a groundbreaking contemporary score from composer Burt Bacharach. The score includes the blockbuster hit “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” plus “Knowing When To Leave,” “Turkey Lurkey Time,” “Whoever You Are,” and the title song.

Promises, Promises opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on December 1, 1968, starring Jill O'Hara, Jerry Orbach and Marian Mercer. A resounding hit, the show played for 1,281 performances. It was revived on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre in 2010, starring Kristin Chenoweth, Sean Hayes and Katie Finneran.

Act I

Chuck Baxter, an ambitious bachelor and junior executive for a large insurance company called Consolidated Life, expresses his frustrations and hopes for career advancement ("Half as Big as Life"). To curry favor with higher-ups in the company, he allows his apartment to be used for their romantic trysts in return for promises of promotion ("Upstairs"). Chuck has his own eye set on Fran Kubelik, a waitress in the company cafeteria whom he's always admired from a distance. While talking to Chuck, she wonders if she will ever find someone to share her life with. Chuck hopes that she might notice him ("You'll Think of Someone").

J.D. Sheldrake, the company's powerful personnel director, notices the glowing reviews written by Chuck's superiors and deduces the reason for them. He requests sole use of the apartment for his affairs in exchange for Chuck's long-awaited promotion and tickets to a basketball game ("Our Little Secret"). Chuck asks Fran to attend the basketball game with him, and she agrees to meet him there after first having a drink with her soon-to-be ex-lover ("She Likes Basketball").

Fran's lover turns out to be Sheldrake, who is married. Fran wants to end the relationship, but Sheldrake talks her into spending the evening with him ("Knowing When to Leave"). Though Fran stands him up, Chuck forgives her. When he informs the other executives that his apartment is no longer available for their use, they express dismay ("Where Can You Take a Girl?"). Meanwhile, Sheldrake wonders why he is drawn to affairs ("Wanting Things"). The scene shifts to the raucous company Christmas party ("Turkey Lurkey Time"). At the party, Miss Olsen, Sheldrake's secretary, reveals to Fran that she is simply the latest in a long line of Sheldrake's mistresses. The first-act curtain falls as Chuck discovers that Fran is the one Sheldrake has been taking to his apartment.

Act II

A despondent Chuck spends Christmas Eve trying to drink away his troubles at a bar. He meets another tipsy lonelyheart, Marge MacDougall, who agrees to come back to his apartment ("A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing"). In the meantime, at Chuck's apartment, Fran confronts Sheldrake about his earlier affairs. While he admits to the affairs, he declares his love for Fran, but tells her that he must leave in order to catch his train home to spend Christmas Eve with his family. A despairing Fran discovers Chuck's sleeping pills and takes the whole bottle ("Whoever You Are").

When Chuck arrives with Marge, he discovers Fran on his bed. After quickly disposing of Marge, a frantic Chuck gets his neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss, to come over, and together they save her life. The next morning Chuck calls Sheldrake to let him know what happened. Sheldrake says he can't leave for the city without his wife knowing and asks Chuck to take care of Fran ("Christmas Day").

Over the next few days Chuck and Dreyfuss try to keep Fran's spirits up to prevent a relapse into suicidal behavior ("A Young Pretty Girl Like You"). Chuck and Fran play gin rummy and discuss their problems, growing closer ("I'll Never Fall In Love Again"). Mr. Kirkeby, one of Chuck's former 'clients,' discovers that Fran has been staying at Chuck's apartment, so as revenge for cutting him and the others off from using the apartment he tells Fran's overly protective brother where she has been staying. Karl Kubelik then comes to the apartment to collect her and, believing that Chuck is the cause of her current state, punches Chuck.

Miss Olsen soon discovers that Sheldrake's actions led to Fran almost killing herself. She quits her job and tells Mrs. Sheldrake all about her husband's affairs. She leaves him, resulting in his desperation to woo Fran back. Sheldrake asks for the keys to Chuck's apartment again on New Year's Eve to take Fran there. Chuck refuses and quits his job rather than allow Sheldrake to take Fran to his apartment ever again ("Promises, Promises").

Deciding that he has to get away, Chuck begins packing to move elsewhere when Fran comes to see him. Sheldrake had told her that Chuck had refused him access and quit, and she realizes that Chuck is the one who really loves her. As they resume their earlier game of gin, he declares his love for her, to which she replies, "Shut up and play cards."


Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Mild Adult Themes

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: 1960s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


The offices of Consolidated Life; Chuck's Apartment House; Lum Ding's Restaurant and Madison Square Garden; Clancy's Lounge; Others, 1968.


2f, 3m
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)


Chuck Baxter
J. D. Sheldrake
Fran Kubelik
Dr. Dreyfuss
Marge MacDougall


Miss Wong
Miss Polansky
Miss Della Hoya


Sylvia Gilhooley
Miss Kreplinski (Nurse)
1st Girl
2nd Girl
Nurse (Office)
Doctor (Office)
Miss Olson
Karl Kubelik
Young Man
Mrs. Sheldrake


Employees of Consolidated Life, party-goers, restaurant patrons


  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Pop/Rock
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Difficult
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Large

Act I

1. Overture – Orchestra
1a. Opening Scene 1: Adding Machine – Orchestra
2. “Half As Big As Life” – Chuck
3. Grapes of Roth – Orchestra
4. “Upstairs” – Chuck
5. “Upstairs” #2: The Blahs – Chuck
6. “You’ll Think of Someone” – Fran & Chuck
6a. Scene Change – Orchestra
7. “It’s Our Little Secret” – Chuck & Sheldrake
7a. Lobby Transition – Orchestra
[7b. “I Say A Little Prayer” - Fran & Girls]*
8. “She Likes Basketball” – Chuck
8a. Scene Change – Orchestra
9. “Knowing When To Leave” – Fran
9a. End of Scene – Orchestra
9b. Lobby Transition #2 – Orchestra
10. “Where Can You Take A Girl” – Dobitch, Eichelberger, Kirkeby, & Vanderhof
10a. Encore: “Where Can You Take A Girl” – Dobitch, Eichelberger, Kirkeby, & Vanderhof
11. “Wanting Things” – Sheldrake
12. Christmas Party: “Turkey Lurkey Time” – 4 Orchestra Girls & Miss Wong, Miss Polanski, & Miss Della Hoya
[12a. “A House Is Not A Home” - Fran]*
13. Finale Act One – Orchestra

Act II

14. Entr’acte – Orchestra
15. “A Fact Can Be A Beautiful Thing” – Marge, Chuck, & Chorus
15a. Playoff – Chorus & 4 orchestra girls
16. “Whoever You Are I Love You” – Fran
16a. The Scene Continues – Orchestra
16b. Blackout To Five A.M. – Orchestra
17. “Christmas Day” – 4 Orchestra Girls
[17a. “A House Is Not A Home” (Reprise) - Chuck]*
18. “A Young Pretty Girl Like You” – Doctor & Chuck
19. “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” – Fran & Chuck
20. End of Scene – Dobitch, Eichelberger, Kirkeby, & Vanderhof
20a. Scene Change – Orchestra
21. “Promises, Promises” – Chuck
22. Finale Act Two – Orchestra
23. Curtain Calls – Full Company
24. Exit Music – Orchestra

*Optional Additional Numbers

Full Orchestration

Violins 1 & 2
Cello 1 & 2
Bass and Fender Bass

Reed 1: Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & optional Alto Flute
Reed 2: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone & optional Flute
Reed 3: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone & optional Oboe
Reed 4: Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone & optional Flute

Trumpet 1 & 2 (both double on Flugelhorn)
Trumpet 3
Trombone 1
Trombone 2

Percussion 1 & 2:

1: (Mallets)
Timpani (2)
Tubophone (optional)
Finger Cymbals
Sleigh Bells
2: (Trap Drum Set)
Bass Drum
Snare Drum
Tom Tom
Cymbals (Suspended, Hi-Hat, Finger)
Wood Block

Guitar I & II (both double Electric Guitar, Guitar II also doubles Bass Guitar)
Piano and Electric Piano (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.)

NOTE: Violins, Cello, Horn and Trombone II are optional parts.



Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
35 Libretto/Vocal Books
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Horn
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
2 Percussion 1&2
1 Guitar 1&2
1 Piano
3 Violin 1&2
2 Cello 1&2
1 Bass

Optional Rental Material:
1 package of Three Optional Additional Numbers: “I Say A Little Prayer”, “A House I Not A Home”, “A House I Not A Home (Reprise)”

Optional rental material is subject to additional licensing and retal fees.

Piano Only:
1 Piano/Conductor
35 Libretto/Vocal Books

Additional Resources And Services Available


Music Samples


  • Show Clips: Promises, Promises

More videos +


  • Promises, Promises

    Credit: Joan Marcus

  • Promises, Promises

    Credit: Joan Marcus

  • Promises, Promises

    Credit: Joan Marcus



Neil Simon

American playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon is widely regarded as one of the most successful, prolific and performed playwrights in the world. In addition to Lost In Yonkers, which won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize, his plays and musicals include Come Blow Your Horn, Little Me, Ba ...

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Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder (1906–2002) was an Austrian-born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist whose career spanned more than five decades. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of the Hollywood Golden Age of cinema. With The Apartment, Wilder became the first person ...

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I.A.L. Diamond

BILLY WILDER and I. A. L. DIAMOND began collaborating in 1957. Beginning with Love in the Afternoon, their partnership spanned 25 years and a dozen critically acclaimed films including Merry Andrew; Some Like It Hot (an Oscar nomination); The Apartment; One, Two, Three; Irma La Douce; Kiss Me Stupid; The Fortune Coo ...

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Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach has been one of the most-honored and successful composers for six decades. His music is as diverse as his audiences, spanning generations and continents, as he is celebrated both as a pop culture icon and one of the world’s greatest contemporary composers. Bacharach’s credits read lik ...

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Hal David

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