BWW Scoop: Hayes & Hathaway Star in Bway Bound 'Promises, Promises' Reading

BWW just got an exclusive account of a top secret, closed reading that happened over the weekend at Playwright's Horizons Rehearsal Studio (although Playwrights is not involved in this production).

Our guest, who was invited by one of the actors, reports that there was a full table reading and sing-through of the musical Promises, Promises by Neil Simon, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The show has never been revived as a first class production on Broadway since it originally opened in 1968, 40 years ago, with Jerry Orbach and Jill O'Hara. (Except for a brief run at Encores in 1997 that starred Martin Short.)

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron opened the reading by introducing their producing partners John Gore and Beth Williams (Broadway Across America) and Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Assuming the show moves forward, this will be Zadan and Meron's Broadway producing debut after making the hit movies of Chicago and Hairspray. The production will also be a re-teaming with the infamous Weinsteins after they all worked together on Chicago during the Miramax days.

Neil Simon and his wife Elaine Joyce were among the special invitees, and were in the first row with a limited group of invited guests. Both Bacharach and David were said to be out of town and unable to attend.

The reading starred Sean Hayes and Anne Hathaway along with a full cast plus several background singers, and was staged by director/choreographer Rob Ashford.

We're told that Hayes and Hathaway stunned the audience with their performances (both singing and acting) and that they garnered many huge and consistent laughs throughout--as well as a few tears.

The 40 year old Promises is said to have held up superbly and we were told that Simon and Joyce were heard raving about the reading afterwards and about Hayes' and Hathaway's performances in the roles. The energy in the room seemed to indicate that the cast and creative team were eager and hopeful to move forward to a full revival on Broadway in the near future.

As of now, our guest did not hear anything specific about future plans, but we'll be watching for them!

Promises, Promises is a Broadway musical comedy based on the film The Apartment by Billy Wilder. The music is by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David, and book by Neil Simon. Musical numbers were staged and choreographed by Michael Bennett.

The show was originally produced on Broadway in 1968, with a cast including Jerry Orbach, Jill O'Hara and Edward Winter. It played at the Shubert Theatre, where it ran until 1972, for a total of 1,281 performances. The show had a London production at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1969, featuring Tony Roberts and Betty Buckley.

Songs include the title tune (a hit for Dionne Warwick, released before the show's December 1968 Broadway opening), "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" (also a hit for Bobbie Gentry), "Knowing When To Leave", "She Likes Basketball" and "Turkey Lurkey Time," the last a famous dance number featuring Donna McKechnie, Baayork Lee, and Margo Sappington.

Photos: Sean Hayes and Anne Hathaway by Linda Lenzi

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