HUDSON -- Hudson High School students will be working their way to the top, with a production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” premiering Friday, Nov. 8.

The story follows Pierrepont Finch, played by Benjamin Gagliardi, a window washer who is trying to work his way to the top of the World Wide Wicket Company with the help of his book “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

The effort thrusts him into the corporate world.Finch catches the eye of Rosemary, played by Emma Hatch, who dreams of being by his side as he makes his way. Her friend Smitty, played by Molly Weber, is more than willing to interfere for both of their benefits, providing the nudges they need.

Finch is quickly seen as a nemesis to Bud Frump, played by Razik Saifullah, the entitled nephew of the big boss, who’s plans to whine his way to the top are affected by Finch’s book-based work.

Directors Kari and Rico Heisler selected the musical because it offers parts and opportunities for many students. The production has about 40 cast members, each one with a line or feature in the show.

“We want all our kids to be able to shine,” Kari Heisler said.

The production brings a different life to the show, one that has many adaptations out there, Kari Heisler said.

“We were purposeful about keeping it light,” she said.

Kari Heisler said she loves the music of the show, especially “Coffee Break” and “Brotherhood of Man.”

“It's super entertaining, high energy and there’s so much music in it,” she said.

The work of all involved brings the musical to a level above the typical high school production, Kari Heisler said.

“They have such passion and such heart,” she said.

The musical is over-the-top fun, said senior Gagliardi.

Fellow senior Saifullah said he enjoys the production's satire.

“Very few moments can be taken seriously,” he said.

Still, Gagliardi said the musical provides serious and interesting commentary on social issues.

Hatch, a sophomore, said she enjoys the 1960s setting of the show.

“It jumps you right back into the '60s,” she said, giving the audience the full experience.

Many of the points of the play, though, are still relevant to today, sophomore Weber said.

Gagliardi’s character, Finch, is a lot of fun to play, he said. “He just has so much energy.”

Saifullah enjoys playing a character that is the opposite of the protagonist, Finch, yet following a similar path.

Weber is a fan of her character’s bluntness.

“I feel like she’s the kind of character that says what everyone thinks but is too afraid to say,” Weber said.

Hatch find her character Rosemary to be forgiving and kind.

“She looks past people’s mistakes,” she said.

The four have each done productions before, either at the high school or with The Phipps.

“I just love the entire community,” Hatch said. “I think it’s a very accepting community.”

Weber agreed that the people are the best part of theater.

“I feel like when you’re at rehearsal you can be yourself around these people,” she said.

It’s something that anybody can do, Gagliardi said, and those who do are dedicated to it.

“It’s such an amazing thing to be able to share the experience with people,” he said.

Theater can be transforming for a lot of people, Saifullah said.

“You end up showing so much of your character despite you playing someone else,” he said.

He said the unity between all those who work on a show is cool to see.

“It’s a big combination of everyone’s passion,” he said.

Hatch said it’s important to point out that the audience only sees the cast members, while many more people make the show possible, including parent volunteers, directors, crew and the pit orchestra.

“There’s so many people who have put so much time into the show,” she said.

Performances are weekends Nov. 8-10 and Nov. 15-17. Tickets are available at