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'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' to be presented by ARTS

May. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- In an era filled with get-rich, four-hour-work-week kind of schemes around every corner, it's no wonder this 1961 musical is so ripe for revival.

The rollicking 1961 comedy musical, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which has been revived twice on Broadway, gets brushed with new life from the company of ARTS this weekend and next.

Arts Resources for the Tri-State presents the Tony Award-winning musical at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 24-25 as well as 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26.

The show will also run at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 2, at the Renaissance Theatre, 900 8th St., Huntington.

Tickets are $15 or $30 for dinner and a show. Call 304-733-ARTS (2787).

The musical won seven Tonys after it first opened on Broadway in 1961, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1962, has since been revived a couple times with such famed actors as Matthew Broderick working the show in the 1990s and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette starring in a 50th anniversary Broadway revival in 2011.

Also taking a turn in the leading roles were Beau Bridges and Nick Jonas as well.

Bil Neal, who is directing the ARTS production, said at the heart of Business is a big flashy Broadway music with big characters but a simple and powerful tale.

The musical tells the story of J. Pierrepont Finch who, with the help of his ambition and the "How to Succeed" handbook, climbs the corporate ladder from window washer to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Company, and brings along all the successes and obstacles that come with it.

"I think the story itself is fundamentally fun and the music is happy and you have got the good girl who you know is going to end up with the good guy and the slimeball and the sexy secretary who you know will end up in trouble," Neal said. "It has all of those standard characters with a new twist."

And speaking of characters with a new twist, this show happens to feature all four of the resident directors for ARTS with Neal directing and on stage, Stephen Vance (who is directing "Shenandoah" in October) and Mike Murdock (who just directed "Julius Caesar," and whose next project will be Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" in November), as well as a special appearance from the fourth director, and the company's own Equity performer, Gene Anthony, whose next show will be "The Man Who Came to Dinner" in mid-August).

"I wanted to have a project where all four of us were involved and they have been a huge asset from their comedic timing and dancing to their technical knowledge," Neal said. "This has already been a huge, fun-filled success before we even open."

Neal said "How to Succeed" felt like the right choice as the four directors sifted through dozens of choices for filling out their first season as a company.

"I liked having the four different perspectives and its enabled us to create such a cool environment with 'Cabaret' and I was crazy about the modern edge of 'Caesar' that took my breath away, and so for my project I wanted something more traditional Broadway," Neal said. "When I saw that my slot followed 'Cabaret' and 'Caesar' I knew I wanted a big fluffy musical there."

While it is the biggest show the ARTS company has put on its inaugural season, "How to Succeed," he feels, soars with this talented cast.

"When you're doing these big Broadway style musicals it doesn't hurt to have 20 talented and solid performers in your hip pocket," Neal said. "..I had four females audition for the lead and when I picked one the others said, 'we will be the chorus' and that amazes me," Neal said. "There has not been a diva moment this season. I'm convinced we have the right team in place and the right people cast and the right people in the company. We're working hard, and I wouldn't say I feel confident off of the success of the first two shows but I am thrilled they did as well as they did and I think we can keep building on the success of what came before."

If You Go

WHAT: Arts Resources for the Tri-State production of the comedy musical, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"

WHERE: Renaissance Theatre, 900 8th St., Huntington.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 24-25 as well as 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26.

HOW MUCH: $15 or $30 for dinner and a show. The show will also be performed May 31 through June 2 as well

GET TIX: Call 304-733-ARTS (2787).