Do-it-yourself books have always been popular among those looking for ways to lose weight, decorate a room, build a shed, start a business or change careers. "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" is a musical based on just such a book.
Having its first run in 1961, the show is enjoying a revival on Broadway with Anderson Cooper as the voice of the book, Nick Jonas in the title role of Finch and Beau Bridges as Mr. Biggley.
Columbian High School its take on "How to Succeed ..." at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and March 30 and 31.
The story follows Pierpont Finch, a window washer who also is reading a how-to book. Andrew Carper as the voice of the book tells Finch he can make his way up the corporate ladder without doing any work. The narrator interjects advice periodically throughout the show.
Andrew Gase as Finch sings the title song before putting aside the window-washing gear and heading into the building to apply for a job at the World Wide Wicket Co. One of the first people he bumps into, literally, is J.B. Biggley, president of the company, played by Christopher Perry.
Biggley directs Finch to the personnel department. Along the way, Finch meets a host of other employees in the firm "so big that nobody knows exactly what anybody else is doing."
Finch is hired to replace Mr. Twimble (Dakota Martinez), who is retiring after 25 years in the mailroom. Twimble explains to Finch "The Company Way" of mindlessly following orders. The monotony of the office grind is extended to the costumes. The men are in drab suits, as are most of the women. In contrast, the office walls are done in bright-colored panels.
Secretary Rosemary Pilkington, portrayed by Sydney Schmucker, takes an instant liking to Finch and sings "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm." Other women appear, including Hannah Smith as Smitty, Cheyane Thacker as the curvaceous Hedy LaRue, Julia Lewis as the straight-laced Miss Jones and Gabrielle Mitchel as Miss Krumholtz.
Finch gets a picture of corporate routine as the workers line up for "Coffee Break." When they discover the office is out of coffee, they launch into a robotic dance.
Finch is introduced to some of his male co-workers. There is Timothy Gilchrist as Mr. Bratt, Scott Cook Jr. as Mr. Gatch and Samuel Howard as Bud Frump. Looking through over-sized eyeglasses, Frump brags about being a nephew to Mr. Biggley's wife and hints he is destined to run the company someday.
The book suggests connections to the boss are a good thing, so Finch professes to be an alum of Biggley's college with "Grand Old Ivy."
The romance between Rosemary and Finch continues to build as Finch is promoted to a higher post than Frump. The underling tries to get Finch in trouble, but the plan backfires.
Although Rosemary shows her devotion with "I Believe in You," she also wonders whether Finch loves the corporate climb more than he loves her.
Finch discovers an affair between Biggley and Hedy but keeps it under wraps. Mr. Ovington (Steven Simpkins) is promoted to president of the advertising department, but he doesn't last long. When the company experiences financial troubles, Finch is faced with finding a way to keep his job and promote the company.
Real trouble occurs when Wally Womper (Maxwell Pauly), chairman of the board, appears to "clean house" at Worldwide Wicket. Finch is able to direct the blame for the company's problems to Frump, who is fired. Finch also defends the staff and convinces Womper they believe in teamwork and "Brotherhood of Man."
It is a lesson Finch also must learn as the book guides him not to worry about the people he crushes on the way to the top.
Fleshing out the scenes is the women's chorus with Mayur Yoshi, Grace Eberly, Morgan Vallery, Crystal Dewald, Jillian Ledwedge, Leah Albright, Alyssa Assenheimer, Olivia Woods, Danielle Reiley, Chandler Carley, Kendra Bosse, Julianne Peacock, Natalie Howard and Clair Glover.
The men's chorus includes Samuel Smith, Christopher Daniel, Scott Bryant, Roland Scaife, Vincent Anway, Joshua Evans, Eline Widman, John Obringer, John Spahr, Travis Zimmerman, Nate Ramsdell, Jacob Gaietto, Trent Dundore, Dustyn Cimo and Mason McCool.
A small pit band is directed by Curtis King.
Meredith Glover is stage manager.
All seats for "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" are $5. For reservations and more information, call (419) 447-6331. Columbian High School is located at 300 S. Monroe St.