Since the second week of classes, the student ensemble of Gettysburg College’s musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has been practicing six days-per-week, three to four hours-per-day.
And in spite of the tireless performance schedule for the budding actors, not to mention the entire production team—musicians, set designers, makeup artists, and choreographers alike—the Gettysburgians are excited for opening night this week at the College’s Majestic Theater.
The musical is directed by Theatre Arts Prof. Chris Kauffman, who cultivated the talents of students from across campus—representing a variety of majors—to recreate this popular Broadway production right here in Adams County.
“Working with Professor Kauffman is great because he has a clear vision and gives the actors direction, but he also encourages us to explore our own thoughts on characterization and staging, which contributes to a very collaborative environment,” said political science major Jason Spiegel ’17, who will star as protagonist J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
The musical tells the story of Finch—a young and ambitious man—who quickly rises from a window washer to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Company after following the steps of the book “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
Kauffman was drawn to this particular Broadway production—based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 novel—because it “satirically characterizes the culture of the 1960s office in terms of gender roles and power dynamics.”
“Since [the musical] is a satirical comedy set in the 1960s, we have had many discussions throughout the rehearsal process about the 60s and traditional gender stereotypes of the time period, and how our characters fit or do not fit those traditional roles,” said history and music double major Abigail Winston ’19, who will play Rosemary—secretary at the World Wide Wicket Company.
The musical—the first at Gettysburg College since 2013—is made possible through the work of many hands across campus, including Prof. Eric Blair Berninghausen (set design), Julie Buehrer (costume design), and Jonathan Stiles (Majestic Technical Director). The musical is also presented in collaboration with the Sunderman Conservatory of Music. In fact, Kauffman has partnered with Conservatory Prof. Susan Hochmiller for choral direction, as well as Prof. Buzz Jones, who will conduct a pit of 20 students and four professionals. Jones has conducted the pit for Gettysburg's last seven musicals since 2001.