J. Pierrepont Finch is a window washer with ambition, and a book to tell him how to use it (How to Succeed). He gets an entry-level job at World Wide Wickets, a company "so big that nobody knows exactly what anybody else is doing." There he meets Rosemary Pilkington, a secretary with ambitions of her own matrimonial ambitions (Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm). As the faceless employees mark time (Coffee Break), Finch learns from his boss, mail-room maven Twimble how not to rise in the company (Company Way) and from his co-worker, Bud Frump, how to stay employed be the boss's nephew.
Finch is promoted past Frump (Company Way (Reprise)), eventually taking the job of an employee transferred to Venezuela because the fella forgot that A Secretary Is Not a Toy. Meanwhile, Rosemary continues to work her wiles on Finch (Been a Long Day) and Frump continues to work his connections with boss J.B. Biggley (Been a Long Day (Reprise)). Having no connections, Finch decides to manufacture some by pretending to be an alumnus of the boss's alma mater, Grand Old Ivy.
Finch's latest promotion is celebrated by a party, to which all the women wear the same Paris Original dress. Frump tries to set Finch up to be caught with the company bombshell, Hedy LaRue, secretly the par-amour of Biggley, but Finch ends up kissing Rosemary instead and realizing his love for her (Rosemary). He proposes; she demurs when Finch becomes more interested in his office than in her (Rosemary (Reprise)). The other girls call her Cinderella, Darling and urge her not to "turn down the prince." NOTE: This song was cut from the recent Broadway production.
Trouble in paradise continues. Hedy is disillusioned with the steno pool (Love From a Heart of Gold) As head of advertising, Finch must actually come up with an idea to save his job. Having none, he takes the one Frump offers, not realizing Biggley has already turned it down. Frump screws his courage to the sticking place before the big meeting, saying to his reflection in the executive washroom, "I Believe In You." Biggley goes for the idea when it provides a TV spokesmodel job for Hedy.
But Hedy gives away the location of the treasure on the TV show, causing all the WWW buildings to be torn to bits. Heads must roll! The Chairman of the Board himself, Wally Womper, shows up and Finch is to be the whipping boy. But he saves himself again by reminding Wally that they are all members of that great big Brotherhood of Man. Surprisingly, this works; Wally retires and takes up with Hedy; Finch takes his job and Rosemary, and reveals his political ambitions as the company remembers its departed with a mournful tear, to the Company Way music (Finale).
- Patrick O'Brien (email@example.com)