Sweet Smell of Success

A CONCORD THEATRICALS TITLE

Sweet Smell of Success

Full-Length Musical, Drama  /  9f, 13m

Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Craig Carnelia
Book by John Guare
Based on the novel by Ernest Lehman and the MGM/United Artists motion picture

Based on the 1957 movie of the same name, Sweet Smell of Success tells the story of a powerful newspaper columnist named J. J. Hunsecker who uses his connections to ruin his sister's relationship with a man he deems inappropriate.

Image: 2012 Arcola Theatre Production (Tristram Kenton)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    9f, 13m
Accolades
Accolades
  • Nominee: Seven 2002 Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score
    Nominee: Ten 2002 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, Book of a Musical, Music and Lyrics
Licence details
  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Details

Summary
It’s New York, 1952. Welcome to Broadway, the glamour and power capital of the universe. J.J. Hunsecker rules it all with his daily gossip column in the New York Globe, syndicated to sixty million readers across America. J.J. has the goods on everyone, from the president to the latest starlet. And everyone feeds J.J. scandal, from J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joe McCarthy down to a battalion of hungry press agents who attach their news to a client that J.J. might plug. When a young press agent, Sidney, tries to hitch his wagon to J.J. while keeping secrets about his client’s new relationship with J.J.’s sister, he learns that you can become no one if J.J. turns on you.

History
Sweet Smell of Success premiered on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on March 14, 2002. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, the production starred John Lithgow, Brian d'Arcy James and Kelli O'Hara.
Keywords

JJ HUNSECKER – A powerful gossip columnist
SIDNEY – A struggling press agent
SUSAN – JJ's sister, a classy beauty who falls in love with Dallas
DALLAS – A hot young jazz piano player, who falls in love with Susan
RITA – Sidney's waitress girlfriend
MADGE
CONGRESSMAN
BLUE ANGEL PRESS AGENT
EMPIRE ROOM PRESS AGENT
ABIGAIL BARCLAY
TONY – The owner of a sleazy jazz joint, Club Voodoo
BILLY VAN CLEVE
PREGNANT WOMAN
PEPPER WHITE'S ESCORT
OTIS ELWELL – JJ's rival gossip column monger
LESTER
DEAD ACCTRESS
KELLO – Powerful and sinister police detective
CLUB ZANZIBAR SINGER
CATHEDRAL SOLOIST
SENATOR
SENATOR'S GIRLFRIEND
TONY'S CAPRICE BARTENDER
TELETHON ANNOUNCER
BOBO
JJ's VAUDEVILLE PARTNER
PRESS AGENT

In the original Broadway production the following roles were doubled:

Congressman / Otis Elwell
Blue Angel Press Agent / Senator
Empire Room Press Agent / Kello
Tony / Bobo
Club Zanzibar Singer / Tony's Caprice Bartender

  • Time Period 1950s
  • Setting New York City. 1952.
  • Cautions
    • Mild Adult Themes

Media

★★★★ No musical this year has given me more pleasure!” – Michael Billington, The Guardian

“The story is gripping, the Marvin Hamlisch score dramatically powerful, and the dancing as good as you will find in any West End show... John Guare's witty book conveys the awesome power, and rightwing prejudice, of a column like that written by JJ. Hamlisch's score also catches the frenzy of Manhattan life and is full of pleasing ironies.” – Michael Billington, The Guardian

“The music, by Marvin Hamlisch, oozes period swank and jazzy themes.” – Talkin' Broadway

“John Guare has bravely gone beyond slavish adaptation while retaining many of the Hunseckerisms that fans of the film love to quote.” – Curtain Up

ON BREAKING CHARACTER

Getting the Dirt on Sweet Smell of Success 
by Scott Miller 
September 19, 2017

Videos

  • Broadway.com: Concert Reading of Sweet Smell of Success

  • Brian d'Arcy James performs "At the Fountain"

Photos

  • Sweet Smell of Success

    Image: 2012 Arcola Theatre Production (Tristram Kenton)

  • Sweet Smell of Success

    Image: 2012 Arcola Theatre Production (Tristram Kenton)

Music

Music Samples

Act I

“The Column” – JJ, Sidney & Ensemble
“I Could Get You in JJ” – Sidney
“I Cannot Hear the City” – Dallas
“Welcome to the Night” – JJ, Sidney & Ensemble
“Laughin’ All the Way to the Bank” – Club Zanzibar Singer
“At the Fountain” – Sidney
“Psalm 151” – JJ & Sidney
“Don’t Know Where You Leave Off” – Dallas & Susan
“What If” – Susan & Ensemble
“For Susan” – JJ
“One Track Mind” – Dallas
“I Cannot Hear the City (Reprise)” – Dallas
“End of Act I” – Ensemble

Act II

“Break It Up” – JJ, Sidney & Ensemble
“Rita’s Tune” – Rita
“Dirt” – Ensemble
“I Could Get You in JJ (Reprise)” – Sidney
“I Cannot Hear the City (Reprise)” – Susan & Dallas
“Don’t Look Now” – JJ and Ensemble
“At the Fountain (Reprise)” – Sidney & Ensemble
“End of Act II” – JJ, Susan, Sidney & Ensemble

Piano/Conductor
Keyboard 1
Keyboard 2
Percussion 1
Percussion 2
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2
Horn
Cello
Reed 1: Flute, Alto Saxophone, Piccolo, Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone
Reed 2: Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet
Reed 3: Tenor Saxophone, English Horn, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn
Reed 4: Flute, Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Clarinet
Reed 5: Baritone Saxophone, Bassoon, Bass Clarinet, Baritone, Flute
Trombone 1
Trombone 2
Trombone 3
Drums
Bass
Xylophone
  • Orchestra SizeLarge

Materials

Music Rentals

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21 Piano-Conductor Scores Keyboard I

1 Keyboard II
1 Percussion I
1 Percussion II
1 Trumpet I
1 Trumpet II
1 Horn
1 Cello
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Trombone 3
1 Drums
1 Bass
1 Xylophone
21 Piano-Conductor Scores Keyboard

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Authors

Marvin Hamlisch

June 2, 1944—August 6, 2012

As composer, Marvin Hamlisch won virtually every major award that exists: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globe awards, and the Pulitzer Prize (won by A Chorus Line). Only Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers have won a “PEGOT” ...

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John Guare

John Guare's plays include Lydie Breeze; Bosoms and Neglect; The House of Blue Leaves, which won an Obie and NY Drama Critics Circle Award for the Best American Play of 1970-71 and four Tonys in its 1986 Lincoln Center revival; and Six Degrees of Separation, which received th ...
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Craig Carnelia

Craig Carnelia grew up in Floral Park, New York. He was exposed to Broadway at the age of fourteen when he was inspired by the Richard Rodgers musical No Strings. He played guitar, was in a folksinging group and taught himself to play the piano. While attending Hofstra Univer ...

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