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Thespians to “Succeed in Business”

What is the link between a how-to book, jealous business colleagues, knitting, and a treasure hunt?

Answer: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the latest musical from the Penn State Thespians. Playing this Thursday through Saturday in Schwab Auditorium, this classic musical-comedy brings together the talents of actors, dancers, musicians, set designers, and costume designers to transport their audience to 1960s New York and the wacky World Wide Wicket Corporation.

The show centers around J. Pierrepont Finch, played by Senior Mike Weakland. Finch, a lowly window washer, discovers a book detailing every step he needs to complete in order to become the Chairman of the Board. A sweet talker, Finch works his way up in the World Wide Wicket Corporation through half-truths and down-right lies. On his way up the ladder of success, Finch meets secretary Rosemary Pilkington, played by Freshman Morgan Sichler. The two fall in love, but face bumps along the way as Finch gets higher and higher up in the business.

Director Anne-Marie Pietersma says part of the attraction of this show was the media attention it has received in the last few years. “It’s been in the media since it has been revived with Daniel Radcliffe, Nick Jonas, and Darren Criss [as J. Pierrepont Finch], so more people know about it. If people couldn’t go see it on Broadway, they can here. Even though it is an older story, the wit transcends time.”

The humor is sure to appeal to college students, especially those of us who wish we had our own guide on how to succeed in business without really trying. Part of that humor comes from the plot, but most of it comes from Finch’s character.

“What I’ve always liked about this character,” said Weakland, “is that he’s so charming. Anything that should go wrong goes well for him. He is just a happy-go-lucky character.” The supporting cast is just as amusing, especially how easily they are influenced and manipulated by Finch.

After six or seven weeks of rehearsal, and over a year of planning, the Penn State Thespians are putting their final touches on the play, getting it ready for the first performance on Thursday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. Friday’s performance will also be at 7:30 p.m, while Saturday will have two performances, one at 1:00 p.m. and the last at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for general public, and are available at the door, in the HUB, Eisenhower, the State College Ticket Office, or online here.

About the Author

Sarah Lawrenson

Sophomore at Penn State, double majoring in English and Comparative Literature, with a minor in French.

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