It opened on Broadway in 1961, and shortly thereafter won seven Tony Awards (including one for its star, Robert Morse), the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
And now, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying comes to the Walnut Street Theatre May 13-July 13.
In the lead role of J. Pierrepont Finch, the lowly window washer who uses a little handbook called “How To Succeed In Business” to climb the corporate ladder, is Jeremy Morse (no relation).
On his way to high-powered executive, Finch deals with such familiar potent dangers as the office party, backstabbing co-workers, caffeine addiction and, of course, true love.
“And what a wonderful role it is,” said Morse, 27, who is making his Walnut Street debut in this show. “Finch is a good man with a good heart. And the show is light, fast-paced and loads of fun.”
According to Morse, even after all these years, audiences keep coming back to enjoy the fun, the characters and the music, which is wonderful, “Even though I read somewhere that Frank Loesser, who wrote the music, didn’t think this was his best work,” Morse said. “But how could anyone argue with such songs as I Believe in You, Brotherhood of Man and one of my favorites, Rosemary.
Morse grew up in Havertown and insists he didn‘t catch the acting bug until he was a junior in high school.
“But I always loved music. I played the violin, guitar and a little piano, and always loved to sing in my school’s choir.”
So by the time he graduated from Haverford High School, he went off to New York University to major in music.
After graduation, he moved on to further his career, appearing in such productions as Hello, Dolly at Godspeed Opera House, Oliver at Papermill Playhouse, Spamalot at the Gateway Playhouse and others. His performance in Bloodsong of Love at New York’s Ars Nova earned him a Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor In A Musical.
“Playing the villain in that role was amazing, and the nomination really got my career going,” Morse volunteered. “I enjoy playing villains, but I very much enjoy playing Finch. So it all depends on the role.”
Admitting he loves all aspects of show business, he said he wouldn’t be in it if he didn’t because, with few exceptions, it doesn’t pay as well as a lawyer or stock broker.
“But being on stage gives me a great high. And with this show especially, we have a great cast, so it’s wonderful to be with people you like, love and trust.”
When this show ends, Morse will be out there looking for his next role, and there are several he’d love to play.
“I’d love to play the emcee in Cabaret. I might be a little too young yet, but I’ll wait. I’d also love to play Tobias in Sweeney Todd. But I’m sure I’ll enjoy any role that comes along because I really love being in the theater.” ••
For times and ticket information, call 215-574-3550.