More than 20 local teenagers will band together this Friday in the debut performance of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” a Stage of Life (SoL) Theatre Company production.
The Broadway musical, originally performed in 1961, follows the remarkable rise of J. Pierrepont Finch up the corporate ladder. With the aid of his trusty business manual, Finch climbs from window washer to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Company, juggling promotions, rivals and love interests along the way.
“It’s a musical comedy poking fun at the corporate world,” explained Logan Carter, the production’s director as well as the nonprofit’s artistic director. “It’s silly and ridiculous and has really great music, and the dance and choreography are incredible.”
Bryan Edelmann, who recently graduated from The Garden School in New Castle, plays the lead role of Finch. At 18, Edelmann has performed for a number of theater companies throughout the valley, in addition to school productions.
“This is my dream role,” Edelmann said. “It is such an upbeat, high-energy character, and it’s a character that really suits me. Being with SoL is absolutely amazing, and it’s the best theater company I’ve ever worked with.”
The cast ranges from 12 to 18 years old, pulling talent from everywhere from Rifle to Aspen. Auditions were held in May, and the performers have been traveling to Carbondale three to five times per week for rehearsals since then, including daily five-hour practices this week.
“These kids are really committed and super talented,” Carter said. “We even do an eight-hour practice on Saturdays.”
Carter, who performed one of the lead roles in the same production while in high school, said she’s been waiting for a chance to recreate the musical.
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” will be SoL Theatre’s fifth production since the nonprofit was launched in March 2012. SoL Theatre was the brainchild of Carter, who said she had worked in or with every theater company in the valley but had her own vision.
“It’s about not only putting on a great performance, but also about teaching children life skills,” Carter said. “We are using theater to nurture our youth and to build confidence. It’s an experience that will stay with them for life.”
Carter said her main goal was to create a more affordable children’s theater company to increase participation.
“Our goal is to offer youth theater opportunities that are affordable but still high quality,” Carter explained. “The cost per child to participate in a SoL production is roughly half that of other companies.”
Full tuition for a SoL production is $395 per person, but Carter said the majority of the participants receive scholarships to cover at least half of those costs.
This year, the theater company also embarked on a new endeavor, challenging each of the actors and actresses to raise $500 in sponsorship money to cover the costs of production, which works out to roughly $800 per cast member.
“What’s neat is that the cast themselves raised the money to do the show,” Carter said. “Because we are doing a show about how to succeed in business, it made sense to do a mini-lesson in business.”
Including the 23 cast members, Carter said close to 100 individuals are involved in creating this production, ranging from SoL employees and parents to community volunteers.
“So many people come together to put this production together,” Carter said. “The vision is extremely high-quality and professional acting, choreography and music. We want the audience to be mesmerized from the moment it starts.”
There will be six performances of the production, spanning June 28-30 and July 5-7. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. All performances will be at the Carbondale Middle School at 180 Snowmass Drive. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students.