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'How to Succeed' is a success on all ledgers

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By Sara Miller

Did you ever wish there was a book that could tell you everything you need to know to be successful in life? In the case of StageDoor Theatre’s upcoming production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," the talented high school players don’t need a book to succeed. This silly and satirical production pokes fun at corporate culture and effortlessly transports the audience straight back to the skinny ties and A-line dresses of the "Mad Men" era.
The two-act Frank Loesser musical, first produced in 1961, takes aim at a corporate culture that had reached an apex and would soon start its decline.
“When I first saw this show, I assumed it was a huge exaggeration of how insane life in a gigantic company in New York can be," says director Kelly McAllister. "Then I grew up, and for a while worked on the trading floor in New York City, and then as a financial reports editor for Morgan Stanley. I came to realize that life in the office is indeed a madcap, strange experience.”
In the show, J. Pierrepont Finch (played by Sam Kassman and Sam Thompson) is an ambitious young man who uses advice from a self-help book to make his way from the mailroom to the executive suite of World Wide Wickets in Manhattan. He meets his match in secretary Rosemary (Demitra Biddle), who is equally determined to marry a businessman and have a home in the suburbs.
Their progress is hindered by a large cast of comically flawed characters: the fidgety boss Biggley (Jacob Wolfe), who locks himself in his office with his secret knitting project; the air-headed secretary Hedy LaRue (Rachael Gessert); Biggley’s inept niece, Bud Frump (Antigone Biddle); and the disheveled secretary Miss Krumholtz (MeKenna Arent).
The costumes are an homage to the 1960s, with Pierrepont looking as dapper as Don Draper in his corporate suits. Sets were designed by Jonathan Rash and bring to mind a New York skyline. The stars of the set are the four desks that roll on and off the stage. The desks almost become characters of their own as they are wheeled in multiple formations throughout the dance numbers. The choreography was created by Stephanie Prugh, who inserts some clever approaches to dance routines to create a picture of the routine of corporate life.
McAllister is new to the halls of StageDoor, but not new to theater. He is an experienced director, actor, educator and playwright. As a director, McAllister has worked locally with the Denver JCC/Wolf Theatre Academy, the Off Broadway School of Fine Arts, Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids, the Watershed School of Boulder, the Squeaky Stage, and many more. As a playwright, he has won several awards for his plays and musicals. McAllister will also direct StageDoor’s production of "The Wedding Singer" in April.
“StageDoor is very lucky to have so many talented and dedicated young artists. It has been such a joy to work with so many amazing people,” McAllister says. “I think it bodes well for all of our futures that there are so many wonderful actors, actresses, singers, and dancers here.”

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.

'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying'
Presented by StageDoor Theatre’s high school company
Oct. 11, 12, 18, and 19 and Nov. 1 and 2 at 7 p.m.; Oct. 12, 19 and Nov. 2 at 2 p.m.
At StageDoor Theatre, 25797 Conifer Road in Conifer
Tickets: $12 to $18, with special pricing on opening weekend ($12 to $15 on opening weekend and $15 to $18 for all other performances)
To order tickets, visit www.stagedoortheatre.org or call 303-886-2819.