A comedy that has won numerous Tony Awards and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for best drama has come to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is based on Shepherd Mead’s satirical, self-help book which was originally published in the 1950s. Mark Hanson, assistant professor of theater, is directing the show.
“The show does not really have a plot. You kind of know what is going to happen right at the beginning of the show. It is more about how it happens. That is the fun part of it,” Hanson said.
The main character in the musical, J. Pierrepont Finch, is a young window washer who begins reading the book and decides he is going to try to succeed in business. Finch uses the book to climb the corporate ladder at the World Wide Wickets, the company where he is employed.
The show has a similar feel to the 1960s-set television drama “Mad Men” but with a much more lighthearted and funny spirit. Frank Loesser, a lyricist most famous for his 1950s Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls,” wrote the show’s score, which has a jazzy, swing energy to it.
The show has 25 cast members in total.
“I really enjoy the students, and I have a terrific group of colleagues in the department and in the colleges in general. I feel like every professor I meet is really into what they are doing and excited about what they are teaching, and I think the students get that,” Hanson said.
Finch is played by Drew Swenson, sophomore musical theater major. He has previously appeared in University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point productions of “On the Twentieth Century” and “Radium Girls.”
Swenson is excited for the challenge this lead role brings and the opportunity to learn and grow as an actor.
“I have never had a role this big, ever. Even in high school, I had leads but I have never had a role so encompassing where I’m on stage for 90 percent of the show,” Swenson says.
Ellen Reid is a junior design technology major and the lighting designer for the show. She enjoys the variety of productions she has been a part of including “Next to Normal,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Antigone.”
“It’s a small enough program where I get my hands on everything. I have been able to do a lot of different things here rather than if I were to have gone to a private school or conservatory. I have been able to take classes in a lot of things,” Reid said.
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” will be performed Nov. 6 to 7 and Nov. 11 to 14 at 7:30 p.m. as well as Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. All shows will take place in Jenkins Theatre.
Tickets can be purchased at the UWSP Ticket Office located in the Dreyfus University Center or by visiting the UWSP Box Office website.