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A Musical for the Holiday Season at SF Playhouse “Promises, Promises”

Promises, Promises is one of those musical comedies that borrowed its plot from a non-musical film, and a 1960 classic at that. The comedy-drama “The Apartment” produced, directed and co-authored by Billy Wilder starred Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray and won six well-deserved Academy Awards. In 1969 Neil Simon and Burt Bacharach adapted the film and turned it into the musical Promises, Promises. The most memorable song of the show, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” joined the standards of the day, earning a Grammy Nomination and became a hit single sung by Dionne Warwick.  But what does all this have to do with the current local production of Promises, Promises now running at SF Playhouse? The show fits nicely into a holiday season motif with its office Christmas party revels as well as the less than desirable aspects of the season: broken-hearted naivete seeking solace by downing too many sleeping pills.

Leah Shesky, Steven Shear, and Jeffrey Brian Adams

Chuck Baxter (a convincing Jeffrey Brian Adams) is the ambitious but invisible office worker who gains attention by lending his tiny apartment to his philandering superiors for their romantic trysts. He runs into trouble when he finds himself sharing a would-be girlfriend Fran Kubelik (the charming Monique Hafen) with his callous boss J.D. Sheldrake (Johnny Moreno). With hope of gaining Fran’s attention dashed, Chuck seeks solace picking up a tipsy Marge (the hilarious Corinne Proctor) at the local bar only to be surprised to discover

Fran nearly overdosed in his bed. Once rid of Marge, he seeks help from his neighbor Dr. Dreyfuss (the comedic Ray Reinhardt) to save Fran’s life.

With creative choreography by Kimberly Richards, the two and a half hour show includes a dizzying array of projections by Micah Steiglitz. The stronger second act makes additional use of Director Bill English’s Set Design as it shifts back and forth from the office locales to the interior of the apartment.

Promises, Promises continues Tuesdays through Sundays thru January 10, 2015. No shows 11/27,12/24, 12/25, 1/1 Tickets: $20-$120. 415.677.9596. www.sfplayhouse.org.

November 2014 Linda Ayres-Frederick