Ten Great Reasons to Audition for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
From 28th-30th September, Glasgow Music Theatre will be holding open auditions for our tenth production, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Written by the same team as Guys & Dolls (Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows), the show is a classic satire on 1960s big business with song and dance thrown in – essentially Guys & Dolls meets Mad Men! The show follows the fortunes of ambitious charmer J. Pierrepont Finch as he bluffs his way from window cleaner to business big shot with the guidance of a strangely prescient book. The secret, the book says, is to find a company that is “at least as big enough so that nobody knows what anyone else is doing.” Well, the World Wide Wicket Company fits the bill perfectly, and before long Finch has the company’s eager executives and sassy secretaries under his spell. However, Finch soon finds the road to success is paved with obstacles including scheming nemesis Bud Frump and irascible WWW boss J.B. Biggley - who in turn is hopelessly distracted by the office kryptonite that is Hedy La Rue. In order to succeed, Finch has to manage all this and avoid getting sidetracked by his budding romance with demure but determined secretary Rosemary. Can Finch juggle office politics with office romance and overcome the cursed role as Head of Advertising? Well, you could find out when you come to see the show in January 2014, but why not find out sooner by coming to audition with us in September? “That synopsis was informative and fairly well-written,” I hear you say, “but I’m not familiar with the show. Could you perhaps provide ten great reasons to audition for How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying?” Why yes, I could! Reason 1: It’s got the GMT winning formula. If it has sung or step-ball-changed its way across a GMT stage, then Musical Director Gregor Duthie and Choreographer Marion Baird will know all about it. And while this is my directorial debut, I’m a demon with duct tape and I’m clearly in the company of the masters! So if I tell you that, among other things, the cast are required to dance out a battle for the last hot beverage (Coffee Break), participate in some misguided diversity training (A Secretary Is Not A Toy) and save a multi-conglomerate by singing about humanity (Brotherhood Of Man) then you should rightly be rather excited. Reason 2: It’s a show for everybody… Unlike some of our previous projects, this show doesn't require everyone to be the dreaded ‘triple threat’ to audition for named roles or for the ensemble. If you can act, sing and dance with equal aplomb, then great; but if you’re best at one or two out of the three, there’s a place for you and we want you in it. Reason 3: …of all ages. As How To Succeed... is set in a large, established company, we want the cast to look like the staff of a large, established company. So we need the office juniors AND the senior executives – in other words, a cast of all ages and obviously all genders. There’s no limit to how senior our executives can be, but office juniors have to be at least 16 years of age. Reason 4: There’s a wide range of characters, both named and ensemble. For the men there’s ambitious Finch, sneaky Bud Frump, irascible Biggley, sleazy Gatch, beleaguered Bratt, old-timer Twimble, and mysterious Wally Womper. For the women there’s idealistic Rosemary, cynical Smitty, formidable Miss Jones, honey trap Hedy La Rue and pragmatic Lucille Krumholtz. There are also several speaking and singing cameo roles to be spread throughout the ensemble – and taking turns at playing executives, secretaries and TV game show dancers will keep the cast more than busy. Reason 5: It will be retro-tastic. How To Succeed... is set in early 1960s New York and we’re keeping it that way. So that means vintage frocks for the girls and sharp suits and ties for the guys. Brylcreem! Seamed stockings! Dirndl skirts! Bow ties! Braces! What could be better than sashaying across the stage dressed like the cast of Mad Men? And it won’t just be the costumes. You may not believe it, but I’m a bit of a retro-obsessive, so don’t be surprised if the show ends up littered with vintage typewriters, antiquated phones and general retro-bobbins for you all to act your bobby socks off with. I’m getting breathless just writing this, and I’m only directing it. Reason 6: The set will look as retro-tastic as you. We’re working with Glasgow scenery guru Jack Murdoch to create one of a kind, bespoke staging for this production. And because I’m as much of a design-obsessive as a retro-obsessive, the retro look will be reflected on everything, from the posters and flyers to the stage itself. Cast and audience alike will get the chance to step back into the 1960s – except without the requirement to smoke copiously indoors.
Reason 7: You get to play the kazoo. Seriously. It’s in the score and everything.
Reason 8: Your friends and family can see you in something new.
How To Succeed... has enjoyed popular revivals on Broadway, with Matthew Broderick as Finch in 1995, and more recently with Daniel Radcliffe in 2011. Exciting show fact: Ralph ‘Karate Kid’ Macchio was Finch in the 1996 US Touring production. Despite this, the show remains a bit of a hidden gem in the UK, with the last Glasgow performance in 2002 (cough) and some of the current production team were in it (cough). So when ticket-selling time rolls around, you’re already armed with the answer to ‘hasn’t that been on already?’, and of course all of the other great reasons to come see it given here.
Reason 9: It’s going to be one of those feel good productions.
You know those film musicals of the 50s and 60s, where you watch them and wish that real life would hand you lines and outfits like that? Well, How To Succeed... is very much a product of that time. With dialogue as snappy as the costumes and witty songs by Frank Loesser (one of my favourite lyricists), there will be no better opportunity to recreate that 1960s glamour on stage. Also, in a GMT rarity, nobody dies or is terribly injured in this show!
Reason 10: Because I am about to make this pledge.
I, the director, do solemnly swear that for every rehearsal* and performance of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, I will do my very best to present myself in 1960s-themed attire, on the condition that you, as potential cast member, sign up for auditions of the aforementioned show and come to gleefully flaunt your inestimable talents at the production team. *The get-in, technical and dress runs may be exempted for practicality purposes. So what are you waiting for - the 1970s? Nicola Coffield Director