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Press Release



September 30, 2004

Cowley musical takes laughable look at business


Fresh music and satirical comedy are the main ingredients for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” the fall musical at Cowley County Community College.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show, to be performed in the Robert Brown Theatre inside the Brown Center on Oct. 21, 22, and 23, are $7 per person and are on sale now at the Cowley Box Office, located inside the east doors of the Brown Center. The Box Office is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Telephone orders are welcome by calling (620) 441-5570.

A dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 22 and 23 in the Earle N. Wright Community Room. The cost for the dinner and show is $17 per person. Reservations must be made for the dinner by noon Oct. 15 by calling or stopping by the box office.

Scott MacLaughlin, formerly Cowley’s technical theatre director, makes his directorial debut with “How to Succeed.”

“How to Succeed is a satire of big business,” MacLaughlin said. “It follows this character named Finch, who rises from a lowly window washer. He stumbles onto this book, How to Succeed in Business.”

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” which opened in 1961, tells the story of J. Pierpont Finch, a window washer at the World Wide Wicket Company. But the ambitious, young Finch is not content to remain a window washer forever. He has discovered a life-changing book titled How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Certain that this particular guide is his ticket to success, he devours it ravenously.

Following the book’s instructions, Finch soon lands a job in the mailroom and catches the eye of a pretty young secretary named Rosemary. With the help of his instruction manual, Finch stages a miraculous climb up the corporate ladder: from the mailroom to junior executive in Plans and Systems to Head of Plans and Systems to Vice President in charge of Advertising, all the while outwitting his enemies, particularly Bud Frump, the jealous nephew of J.B. Biggley, the president of the company.

At each step along the way, Finch’s instruction manual seems to predict Frump’s back-stabbing plans before they develop, but when Finch is tricked into backing a disastrous ad campaign, the handy how-to guide suddenly runs out of ideas, and the former window washer will have to rely on his own wits if he wants to salvage his job.

“A lot of what you’ll see on stage is a real-life experience in business,” MacLaughlin said. “Our intent is to make this a really fun show where everyone can laugh.”

MacLaughlin said the cast of 11 women and 12 men has been working hard.

“This has been a great cast to work with,” he said. “The students very much care about the show and want it to be successful.”

MacLaughlin said audience members who may have seen the 1961 version would get a glimpse of what business was like 43 years ago.

“Back then, 99 percent of women were secretaries,” MacLaughlin said.

Musical numbers include “I Believe in You” and “The Brotherhood of Man.”

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” opened at the 46th Street Theatre on Oct. 14, 1961, with a cast that featured Robert Morse (Finch), Rudy Vallée (Biggley), Bonnie Scott (Rosemary), Charles Nelson Reilly (Frump), and Virginia Martin (Hedy). The production enjoyed a run of 1,417 performances and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Morse and Vallée reprised their roles in the 1967 film version. A Broadway revival featuring Matthew Broderick opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 23, 1995, and ran for 548 performances.

Connie Donatelli, director of vocal music, and Gary Gackstatter, director of instrumental music, are the musical directors for the show. Jamison Rhoads is director of technical theatre, and Lana Sleeper, former Cowley Danceline coach, has been working with the cast on choreography.

Cowley’s cast:

  • Finch: Bronze Hill, Dexter
  • Biggley: Jared McGuire, Arkansas City
  • Bratt: Andrew Hogan, Winfield
  • Bud Frump: Mark Gubichuk, Arkansas City
  • Twimble: KC Wright, Arkansas City
  • Gatch: Blake Chamberlain, Conway Springs
  • Womper: Kevin Cox, Kiowa (South Barber High School)
  • Ovington: Lance Fry, Arkansas City
  • Rosemary: Whitney Smith, Mulvane
  • Smitty: Whitney Jones, Arkansas City
  • Hedy La Rue: Karrah Fish, Valley Center
  • Miss Jones: Tiffanie Spencer, South Haven
  • Miss Krumholtz: Ashley Jefferies, Belle Plaine

Male chorus:

  • Tackaberry: Ely Behrhorst, Winfield
  • Jenkins: Kyle Chamberland, Sedan
  • Peterson, Mathews: Aaron Fox, Goddard
  • Davis: Caleb Brown, Sedan

Female chorus:

  • Julie Hayden, Rose Hill
  • Sarah Weeks, Winfield
  • Robin Harrill, South Haven
  • Katie Wagner, Douglass
  • Britnee Leighton, Arkansas City
  • Elisa Stites, Prescott (Jayhawk Linn High School)