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Broadway Hit Musical Makes Its Way To Merced College Stage

April 15, 2005

“I realize that I'm the president of this company, the man that's responsible for everything that goes on here. So, I want to state, right now, that anything that happened is not my fault.”
– J. B. Biggley
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Ah, big business! Climbing the corporate ladder! Is there nothing more American, more sacrosanct? Why, even the flag and mom’s apple pie have a hard time competing with the almost inviolate stature of business in America.

That is unless big business meets Broadway, as it does in one of the most delightfully irreverent musicals ever to grace a theater stage. In this case, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, in the words of one reviewer, is a “splendidly sardonic account of Big Business . . . an example of perfect musical comedy construction, swift, sharp, jam-packed with characters and incident and clear-headed as it moves unerringly through an interesting and funny story.”

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is set to hit the Merced College Theater stage at 8 p.m. on Fridays, April 22 and 29, Saturdays, April 23 and 30, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday April 24. Tickets are $8 general admission and $6 for students and seniors.

“This show is guaranteed to delight everyone who attends,” said Fred Friedland, the College’s drama instructor and the show’s director. “I’ve always enjoyed seeing a production of How to Succeed, and I’ve always wanted to direct it.”

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying tells the story of one J. Pierpont Finch, a young window washer at the World Wide Wicket Company. The ambitious Mr. Finch is not content to remain a window washer, however, and soon he discovers a life-changing book that will guide his rise to corporate success. With the book as his guide, he lands a job in the mailroom and begins his meteoric rise up the corporate ladder, becoming “the Junior Executive in Plans and Systems to Head of Plans and Systems to Vice President in charge of Advertising.”

Along the way, Finch must tackle such dangers as “the aggressively compliant company man, the boss’ whiney nepotistic nephew, the office party, backstabbing co-workers, caffeine addiction and, of course, true love. Anyone who has ever worked in an office will enjoy how Finch manages to survive while outwitting his enemies.

The Merced College production is choreographed by Eyleen Peterson, with vocal and music direction by Brian Nutson. The set is designed by Stuart Pierce. The lighting design is by Kevin Matthews, and the costumes are designed by Theresa McIntire.

“It has been great fun working with Brian Nutson, who is a genious musically,” Friedland said. “He is very capable both as a vocal coach and as a musician. Eyleen is very creative and has created wonderful stage movements. Having Stuart, Kevin and Theresa also behind the scenes with their enthusiasm, energy, and creativity has also been great.”

How to Succeed stars Christopher Volkerts as Finch, Bren Ren as Rosemary, Adam Serpa as Bud, Clari Cone as Hedy, Jason Ashley as Biggley, and Sarah Ward as Ms. Jones. A large cast of actors rounds out the other characters and the chorus.

The musical first opened up on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre on October 14, 1961 with Robert Morse as Finch, Rudy Vallee as Biggley, Bonnie Scott as Rosemary, Charles Nelson Reilly as Frump, and Virginia Martin as Hedy. The production ran for 1,417 performances and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. A film version was released in 1967, and in 1995 a Broadway revival featuring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane ran for 548 performances.

Tickets for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying may be purchased at the Merced College Community Services Office, Merced College Theater Box Office, Aloha Flowers and Gifts located in the Merced Mall, Applewood Gifts located at 510 W. 18th Street, Kissin’ Kouzins in the Bear Creek Galleria, and Seraphim Café on Winton Way in Atwater.

For more information or to reserve tickets call the Theater Box Office at (209) 384-6284.

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