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About the Show
It all started with the first faint stirrings of Big Business parody back in the fifties. Shepherd Mead wrote the 1952 best-seller, the title of which was eventually carried over to tonight's celebrated musical adaptation. But when the redoubtable team of Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser completed their transformation of the book into musical comedy form, they were faced with - and happily accepted - an atypical American musicomedy challenge.
Shepherd Mead's original sub-title for the book is: "The Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune." In certain important and hilarious respects, the "hero" of the finished musical version remains just that - a dastard. Thus the mirthfully Machiavellian rise of J. Pierpont Finch in the World-Wide Wicket Company broke with the vast majority of its theatrical predecessors both in its stylish satirization of Madison Avenue and in its hard-nosed reliance on a most unconventional protagonist.
The critical cartwheels on the occasion of its October 14, 1961 opening included: " .. . stings mischievously and laughs uproariously. It belongs to the bluechips among modern musicals . .. " Howard Taubman, New York Times; " .. . crafty, conniving, sneaky, cynical, irreverent, impertinent, sly, malicious, and lovely, just lovely •. . " Walter Kerr, Herald Tribune. And the Pulitzer Prize bestowed on the show for 1962 with the Critic's Circle Award for the season simultaneously marked a further phase of the American musical theatre's coming of age.
Broadway sage and quipster George S. Kaufman once characterized American stage satire as the production which " ... closes on Saturday night." The Loesser-Burrows success story with HOW TO SUCCEED, with its joyous run of 417 performances, gave the lie to that legend. But that is history and not much fun. We know that you will find the living proof quite positive and extremely pleasant to the taste. And it is all yours to enjoy this evening.
Theatre and Performance Studies
La Salle College, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (1975). La Salle College Summer Music Theatre. 21.