Broadway satire comes to Waco

Students from McLennan Community College’s will be performing “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” a rags-to-riches story where the protagonist uses a book to learn how to become successful. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. February 23 through February 25 at the Ball Performing Arts Center at McLennan Community College. Tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for the general public. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

Thursday marks the 15th Annual Hearts in the Arts Gala, an event dedicated to raising scholarship money for McLennan Community College students majoring in the visual and performing arts. Attendees will go to the opening night of MCC’s production of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” and be treated to receptions before and after the show.

The deadline to purchase the $75 gala tickets has already passed. However, those wishing to see the comedic musical can still purchase tickets through MCC’s box office at $10 for the general public and $8 for students.

Kim Patterson, executive director of the MCC Foundation, said the event has successfully raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money over the past 15 years.

“We have a very strong core of supporters in the community,” Patterson said. “I guess you could call them ‘Old Waco,’ those people who have been in the community for a long time and watched MCC grow over the years.”

The pre-show reception has taken place off campus in the past but will move to the historic Northwood House this year. Patterson said she was excited to host the event at a location commonly considered to be a Waco landmark. Northwood House was owned by the family that gave Cameron Park its name.

According to Patterson, MCC’s theater program is stronger than that of many four-year universities. She said the talented performers and the recognizable, high-energy music should make “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” an entertaining performance for those attending the gala.

“It’ll be a fun night and a low-cost way to support the arts,” Patterson said.

Kelly Parker, a theater professor at MCC and a Baylor graduate, said the money raised at the Hearts in the Arts Gala each year is indispensable.

“Some of our students don’t even have to pay tuition because they receive so much money from the gala,” Parker said. “Some of our students would not be able to attend college without it.”

Parker said the cast of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” is one of the most musically talented groups he’s ever had the chance to work with.

The show follows the young J. Pierrepont Finch as he rises up the ranks from a window washer to the head of a corporation. The secret to his success comes from a book by the same title as the show.

“It was Mad Men before Mad Men,” Parker said. “It’s a satire, so it’s putting a critical eye on capitalism and the nature of the business world in general.”

The musical received a 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was revived on Broadway in 2011 with Daniel Radcliffe playing the main character, Finch.

MCC freshman Alec Ehringer said he is honored to play Finch in this weekend’s performance because of the character’s rich history on Broadway.

“Finch is a lovable rogue that bounces around and gets into high jinks,” Ehringer said. “But by the end of the show, he learns to appreciate the people around him and what they do for him throughout the show.”

Jerry MacLauchlin, a Baylor alumnus and former MCCfaculty member, returned to Waco to choreograph the show. According to Parker, MacLauchlin used to work closely with the original choreographer of the show, Bob Fosse.

Ehringer said he felt honored to work with MacLauchlin, who has a wealth of experience performing on and off Broadway.

“Working with Jerry is a bit like working with a kung-fu master who has been reincarnated into a dance teacher,” Ehringer said. “He’s continually a source of inspiration, and his talent is immediately apparent from the moment you talk to him.”