The University of Melbourne Music Theatre Association will present How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as their First Semester Musical.
Director Jayde Kirchert comes loaded with 9 – 5 experience and says: " After having worked in an office and for local government, I felt I had some valuable experiences to draw from in creating the office…..culture for this world." Not to mention, she says, it's a great script, sharp, witty and downright hilarious. Although it is the first big musical Kirchert has directed she acknowledges she has had a great team to support her through the mighty challenge ("Did I mention I love a challenge?") of a 6 week rehearsal schedule.
The show follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who uses a little handbook called "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" to climb the corporate ladder from lowly window washer to high-powered executive, tackling the aggressively compliant "company man", the boss' whiny, nepotistic nephew, the office party, backstabbing co-workers, caffeine addiction and, of course, true love.
The show first opened in Broadway in 1961, went to the West end in 1963 and has had two Broadway revivals in 1995 and 2011 – the latter with Daniel Radcliffe. It has been nominated and won countless Tony awards – such is its pedigree. A hard gig to live up to for any theatre suggests Kirchert who understands that every member of the cast and crew is aware of the high expectations that the audiences will have given its recent revival and the Radcliffe factor. However Kirchert is pragmatic in approach when it comes to UMMTA's production. "Our production is not a carbon copy of the revival," she says, "Rather we are embracing simplicity as the key in approaching the work to give a slick, organised and 'productive' (by which I mean everyone looks busy) feel. We're treating our limitations as challenges and seeing restrictions as opportunities for creativity."
Kirchert acknowledges that any show comes with it’s own unique opportunities and challenges, and How To Succeed is no exception. Auditions were huge with close to 120 auditionees. "There was such a high level of talent and preparation and the choices came down to who was 'right' for each part," Kirchert explains. " It was a very difficult process since the auditions were of such a high standard and in the end we only had 24 roles to fill, but we got there! I'm very excited to be working with this cast, they're a great bunch – dedicated, professional and fun."
Not only is this is, by far, the biggest cast Kirchert has ever worked with but it’s also the first time she has worked to such a short deadline. "From first rehearsal to opening night we had just 49 days! Considering the cast only rehearse 3 times per week, it's an ambitious project," she admits. Although she has learned that anything is possible in 6 weeks….Anything.
The numbers are of course a big part of he success of this piece of musical theatre history – having been nominated for a Grammy as well! Kirchert says: "I think the signature song Brotherhood of man is great, particularly because of the moment it comes out of. Of course it's the ultimate all singing all dancing number with a very clever dramatic purpose. Coffee Break is also another favourite, the lyrics are fantastic and Lena's choreography is hilarious. It also involves almost the entire cast and is a great ensemble number."
So if you are curious about how it all ends get along to UMMTA and see for yourself. As Kirchert says: "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is not only a musical with a very long title (enticing, I know) but it also has a Pulitzer prize winning script- a satirical masterpiece. We have an extremely talented cast and I am confident we will produce a fun, funny production that will exceed expectations! Also, if you like OH & S signage, the World Wide Wicket company has a treat in store…"
All shows are in the Union Theatre, Union House, University of Melbourne
Tickets are $18 UMMTA Members | $20 Concession | $25 Adult
Performances are April 19-20 and 24-27 at 7:30pm
Matinee Performance April 21 at 2:00pm