Long before the Mad Men of Madison Avenue were clawing their way to the top, J. Pierrepont Finch had figured out how to succeed in business without really trying.
The window washer-turned-junior executive will be back to his old office antics when the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina presents "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," the Broadway musical, from April 25 to May 27.
Winner of 10 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "How to Succeed" takes a lighter look at climbing the corporate ladder in 1960s New York City.
"When it debuted on Broadway in 1961, it seemed like a brave satire of the whole business world," said D.J. Salisbury, who is directing the Arts Center production. "Today, 'The Daily Show' does the same thing. It skewers the way things are in a fun way."
When we first meet our young hero, he is hanging in a boatswain's chair outside a Park Avenue office building reading a self-help book with the same title as the play.
Following the step-by-step directions outlined in the manual, he finagles his way into a mailroom job at the World Wide Wicket Company. Before long, he has smooth-talked his way past the boss's nephew, landing a promotion as a junior executive.
"He doesn't do any work, but he knows how to flash a smile and compliment the right people at the appropriate time," said New York actor Anthony Christian Daniel, cast as Finch. "He's not manipulative in an evil way. He just wants to get to the top."
Helping him nab the corner office is secretary Rosemary Pilkington, who has set her sights on the rising corporate star.
"She's looking to move up by marrying someone who is moving up," actress Natalie Newman said of her character. "She falls in love with Finch because he's going places."
Playing the top dog at World Wide Wicket is Drew Taylor, who has starred in eight other Arts Center productions, including hits such as "The Producers," "White Christmas," "The Full Monty" and, most recently, "The Drowsy Chaperone."
"This is such a fun show," Taylor said. "Even though it was written 50 years ago, it still feels fresh."
Written by Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser (the creative team behind "Guys and Dolls"), "Succeed" features a score full of hummable tunes and dance numbers, including the memorable "Brotherhood of Man" and "I Believe in You."
"Loesser combines a sharp, cleared-eyed skill for lyrics with a unique musical style," musical director Fred Willard said. "The songs tell you about the characters and move the story forward. They're as important as the script."