How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (2016)

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PHS presented How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on March 10-13, 2016. 


  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical: Cameron Ebright
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Tori Gaffey
  • Outstanding Featured Performer in a Musical: Lily Fields
  • Outstanding Student Orchestra

Honorable Mention

  • Outstanding Featured Performer in a Musical: Garret Curfman



The top question of my sixth directing season at PHS...Why How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying? I’m lucky that I often get to see Broadway shows, and in 2011, the revival of How to Succeed was one of them. When the curtain closed and the lights went up, I turned to my daughter and said, “I could watch this show a million times over.” She asked why, and I responded that the energy was infectious and the themes were beyond relevant. I wanted to learn those moves, scream about my coffee, and reach for the highest ambition. Its success lies much on the Mad Men style, quick-witted book and lyrics, and brash honesty about the 1960s workplace. On the surface, How to Succeed is about ambition, greed, and manipulation—all the things we don’t want our youth to learn about, right? Then why is it one of the most-performed high school shows?

Is it because How to Succeed is one of only nine musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama? Or because it provides a snapshot of an era gone by? For me, it’s because How to Succeed is a combination of high-energy entertainment while challenging some of the moral dilemmas our society still wrestles with every day. It’s more than just snappy one-liners. It’s a discussion of equality and opportunity, and an illustration of what we all want to believe is the American Dream—a life built on hope and honesty.

While the concept of the American Dream has morphed and changed over time, society’s need to address important topics has not. Equality, how we treat each other, fairness, survival, desperation—yes, these themes all travel through How to Succeed, but these issues also run through the minds of the teenagers before you today. They have amazing thoughts and conclusions about these topics and much more. Don’t believe me? Just ask them. They won’t hold back.

They also won’t hold back when you give them a challenge. You’ll see just that when you watch today’s performance. They’ve slayed this beast with high-energy and fearless confidence. I couldn’t be prouder of how they have brought this world to life.

Just like the World Wide Wicket Corporation, the success of the PHS Musical rests on the shoulders of so many, each contributing their part to the greater whole. The machine never works without all of its moving parts. Kristin, Aileen, Janice, Sandi, Mac, Dave, Jenna, Dustin, Katie, Lori—I just can’t thank you enough for giving your all to our students. Kara, thank you for teaching me so much about how to be a great director, teacher, and friend. To my family—Mark, Rosemary, and Aaron—my book of How to Succeed in Life would have a picture of the three of you by my side.

The number two most frequently asked question of my sixth season? “Where’d you get all those boys?”