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How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 

When: Aug. 12-Sept. 4 2011
When it comes to getting ahead in business, they say it’s not what you know but who you know. But that’s not quite right either. Oftentimes, success is based on a combination of what you know and who you know it about. How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which launches Playhouse on the Square’s 2011-12 season, is a satirical, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical from 1961. It’s both a quaint period piece and an up-to-date reminder that meritocracy is mostly a myth and that having good ideas is often less important for a climber than the ability to get excited about the boss’ bad ones. Here’s what Jordan Nichols, who plays J. Pierrepont Finch, a window washer with aspirations, has to say about success and how to get it.

Flyer: Can you use the lessons in the musical to give all of us some advice on how to get ahead?

Well, you may hurt some people along the way, but if you twist some words around and do it with a smile on your face, you’ll get by. And be attentive to other people. If you act like you’re interested in their lives, they’ll be interested in yours.

There has been so much cultural change and technological upheaval since 1961. Will people see the characters in this office as a reflection of the characters in their office?

The characters are all stereotypes and clown-like. But I think a lot of them are still around. There are probably still conniving nephews and girls prepared to sleep their way to the top.

Looking at the song titles, I have to ask: Are secretaries toys?

Hmm. Tricky. In the play or real life?

Your call.

Well, of course they aren’t.

— Chris Davis


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