Hudson – "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" tells the musical story about the meteoric rise of an ambitious window washer who, with the help of a simple guidebook, gets the job, gets the raise and gets the attention of the big boss – all by his second day at work.
But members of the River's Edge Players, a community theater group sponsored by the Arts Alliance, know that it actually takes much more preparation to bring the full-scale story to the stage, which they'll do with weekend performances Aug. 1, 2, 8 and 9, at 7:30 p.m., at Hudson High School Auditorium.
A company of 28 performers, ranging in age from 17 to about 60, has been rehearsing three nights a week since auditions in mid-June.
The musical is being directed by Sarah Worrest, a Hudson native who returned to the area after living for seven years in New York City, where she graduated from New York University as a Theater Arts major.
This marks Worrest's fifth major musical she's directed with the group.
"Casting is a major hurdle," Worrest said prior to a recent rehearsal. "If you can cast well, then 90 percent of your job should be done."
Worrest cast a number of faces familiar to local theater-goers, as well as some newcomers to the area. Playing the male lead role, Finch, is Josh Bardier of Charlton, making his first appearance in an Arts Alliance production.
Bardier said he relates to the character he's portraying.
"Oh, there are so many similarities , it's really scary!" he said with a laugh. "Your first impression of Finch is that you think he's just this lovable and nice guy, and all of a sudden you see that he has these little nuances; you could call him conniving. It makes it such an interesting role to play."
The actor said he also sees a parallel between his character's determination "to do anything and everything it takes to get the dreams he wants," and his own current pursuit as a theater major; he is entering his junior year at St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vt.
Playing the female lead role, Rosemary, is Tiffany James of Hudson, who has appeared in past Arts Alliance productions, including "Godspell" and "Fame." She said she, too, identifies with her character.
"I definitely see a very bubbly, head-in-the-clouds, always day-dreaming spirit in the character, which is so much a part of me and what I do," said James, who is currently attending Wagner College in New York City, to earn a combined degree in business and theater.
But there's a difference between James and her character, she noted.
"I want to have a career, and yes, be married, but independent," she said. "I think dreams have kind of changed with the times."
"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" debuted on Broadway in the early 1960s, and its script reflects the culture of the times. Leaving the original dialogue intact, Worrest decided to tackle what she calls some "sexist" references with some creative casting to add humor for a contemporary audience.
"I love playing with that a little and 'turning it on its head,'" she said. "I have a boy as a secretary, and I have a girl as an executive."
Serving as the show's musical director is Dennis Wrenn, the chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Algonquin Regional High School.
Discounted advance tickets are offered online at www.upwitharts.com, or by calling (978) 562-1646.