How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
Author: Marie Mcaden | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Getting ahead never got so many laughs than in Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a hilarious song-and-dance sendup to big business. Written by the creators of Guys and Dolls, this mischievous Tony-winning musical pokes fun at all the usual office antics—brownnosing, nepotism, sex and greed. Following Broadway’s recent revival of the show, the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina brings How to Succeed to its Elizabeth Wallace Theatre through May 27.
“It’s a wonderfully lighthearted look at how people get ahead in business,” said director DJ Salisbury. “They put it all right there on stage and let the audience laugh at it.”
Set in the “Mad Men” era of the early 1960s, the story follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who uses a self-help manual to climb the corporate ladder from lowly window washer to high-powered executive at the World Wide Wicket Company.
“He represents every man,” said Anthony Christian Daniel, the New York actor playing Finch in the Arts Center production. “He wants to climb to the top, but he doesn’t want to take all the steps that are necessary to get there.”
Instead, he follows his trusty handbook and outsmarts the boss’s obnoxious nephew, bypassing a job as head of the mailroom to become a junior executive.
“He’s not manipulative in an evil way,” said Daniel, whose theater credits include the first national tours of Mary Poppins and High School Musical. “That’s why the audience roots for him.”
Finch continues his ascent by schmoozing the boss, J.B. Biggley, played by Arts Center regular Drew Taylor, who has appeared in a number of Arts Center hits, including The Producers, White Christmas, The Full Monty and, most recently, The Drowsy Chaperone.
“If what was going on at the World Wide Wicket Company was going on today, we’d all be called up to human resources,” said Taylor, who is starring in his ninth Arts Center production. “It’s more than just office politics. There are all kinds of relationships and shenanigans.”
Arts Center favorite Drew Taylor portrays World Wide Wicket Company president J.B. Biggley, with Anthony Christian Daniel as J. Pierrepont Finch, a young window washer who is hope to learn “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
Biggley is carrying on with his mistress, a buxom ex-night club cigarette girl intent on furthering her career at the Wicket Company. Finch, too, is embroiled in an office romance with the lovely Rosemary Pilkington, a young secretary determined to advance her lot in life by marrying the right man.
“She wants what girls have been told they should want—a husband, kids and a house in the country with a white picket fence,” said Natalie Newman, who is playing Rosemary in her fourth production of the show. “She’s not that different from Finch. She knows what she wants and she’s going to do everything she can to get it.”
In between the office politics and backroom romances are such memorable songs as, “I Believe in You” “Brotherhood of Man” and “Been a Long Day.”
“Loesser was the greatest idea man in the history of American musical theater,” said musical director Fred Willard. “His songs always have a hook or something clever and inventive woven into them.”
Performances of How to Succeed are at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with Sunday shows at 2 p.m. and a 7 p.m. show on May 27. Tickets are $55 and $39 for children 15 and younger, and may be purchased at the Arts Center box office, online at artshhi.com or by phone with a credit card by calling 842-ARTS (2787).