News & Notables from the Division of Performing Arts

Act 1 Presents Recent Broadway Hit “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”

by Roseann Damico Schatkowski | Mar 23, 2015

Act 1 DeSales University Theatre will close its 2014-2015 season with How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Filled with a great score and dazzling dance numbers, this recent hit Broadway revival and Pulitzer Prize winning musical will be presented April 22 to May 3 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa.

howtosucceed_webnewsLong before TV’s Mad Men, there was J. Pierrepont Finch’s story of power, ambition, and greed. With a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, and music by Frank Loesser—the same team that penned Guys and DollsHow to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying follows Finch’s adventures as he steps off the ledge from his window-washing job and cleverly charms his way up the company ladder.

Following a “how to” manual while breaking hearts and stepping on toes along the way, this musical’s great score features exhilarating dance numbers on songs such as “I Believe in You,” “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm,” and “Brotherhood of Man.”

Associate Professor of theatre Steven Dennis is the director. Dennis previously directed Act 1’s A Christmas Story, Quilters, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Merry Christmas, George Bailey, among others. “I became drawn to this piece as a college student after I caught the film on television,” says Dennis.“Someone at a dinner theater where I was performing gave me the original Broadway cast album. I remember going for a good stretch of time listening to it daily. As I work on it now, I see it as a musical satire, which in many ways is a bit smarter than some musical comedies.  It’s noted for its strong, fun script with well-crafted scenes, in addition to lovely songs and innovative dance numbers.”

Nathan Diehl is musical director. Diehl’s Act 1 credits include musical director for Rodgers and Hart: A Celebration, I Love a Piano, and Chicago. In addition, Diehl has served as musical director for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s productions of  Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, and South Pacific, and will serve again as musical director for PSF’s upcoming musical, Les Misérables.

Stephen Casey is choreographer. Casey directed last season’s Act 1 performance of  Rodgers and Hart: A Celebration. Other Act 1 credits include director of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and choreographer for Little Women, The Music Man, I Love a Piano, and Chicago, among others.

“A little known fact about How to Succeed… is that the choreography for the original production was credited to an obscure dance director named Hugh Lambert,” says John Bell, director of the Division of Performing Arts at DeSales. “Producer Cy Feuer attended a trade show and was extremely impressed by an elaborate dance number created by Mr. Lambert. Based on that one number, Feuer hired Lambert to choreograph the new musical. It soon became clear however, that Lambert's creative abilities were not up to the task and Bob Fosse was brought in to replace him. Fosse was unwilling to hurt Lambert's career by having him fired so Lambert's trade-show dance number was recycled as the ‘Treasure Hunt’ dance in ‘How to Succeed…’ while Fosse agreed to take a "musical staging" credit for choreographing all the other dance numbers. It’s a rare case of artistic generosity by one of the great choreographers of the American musical theatre.”

For the DSU production, the corporate jungle comes to life with sets and costumes by Act 1’s resident creative faculty team: scenic designer Will Neuert and costume designer Amy Best. Guest artists Eric Haugen and Matthew Given designed the lighting and sound, respectively. Senior theatre major Karyn Bohli serves as stage manager. “I’m having a blast working with a very fine team,” says Dennis. “Our sound designer Matt Given noted that this was the very first musical he performed in high school, and we agreed that our earlier exposures may not have been coincidental, but part of being made ready to mount this DeSales University production. Our actors are bringing in fun, energetic, original ideas and just as jazzed as we are.”

The production runs April 22 to May 3 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. A talk back with the director and cast is scheduled for Sunday, April 26 after the 2:00 PM performance. There is a morning matinee on Monday, April 27 at 9:45 AM and an added performance on Tuesday, April 28 at a new time of 7:00 PM. There is also an added Saturday matinee performance on May 2 at 2:00 PM.

In an effort to improve accessibility for all patrons, the Saturday, May 2, 2:00 PM performance will feature Open Captioning for patrons who are deaf or hearing impaired and Audio Descriptions for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. During Open Captioned performances, all dialogue and sound effects are presented in real-time on an LED screen that is adjacent to the stage. During Audio Described performances, all action and physical appearances are described live through a headset.

Ticket prices are $27 for adults and $25 for students and seniors on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and $29 for adults and $27 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Group discounts are available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda Center box office at 610-282-3192 or by visiting the web site at

The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.

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