Brandon Acosta

Brandon Acosta portrays J. Pierrepont Finch in the New Castle Playhouse’s production of ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.’

Cross J. Pierrepont Finch off Brandon Acosta’s bucket list.

Having loved “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” since he saw his older sister in the musical six years ago at Neshannock High School, Acosta was thrilled to be cast in the lead role.

His enthusiasm wasn’t dampened when the New Castle Playhouse show started without him — at least for rehearsals.

Director Michael Cavalier explained that he couldn’t wait for Acosta, a student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to come home in early June before beginning practices. So, he went on without him.

“Once he got home, I think his first rehearsal lasted nine hours,” said Cavalier, who directed the actor and his sister Maria at Neshannock, where Acosta held a lead role all four years of high school.

“He’s a great kid, a great study and well-respected by his peers,” he continued. “He’s all things a director could hope for.”

Acosta, who first took the stage as a 7-year-old, credits Cavalier with inspiring him to pursue his passion.

“I’ve been doing theater my whole life, it’s just something I feel in love with,” said Acosta who played Ambrose Kemper in Northwestern’s production of “Hello, Dolly!” this past school year and has taken part in other summer Playhouse shows directed by Cavalier.

“The last three years, we’ve done big guy shows for the summer musical, and I wanted to do it again,” Cavalier said. “Last year, it was ‘Guys and Dolls’ with Frank Loesser music, so I figured let’s follow up with another Loesser show.”

The winner of the 1962 Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama tells the tale of young, ambitious J. Pierrepont Finch, who, with the help of the book “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” rises from window washer to chairman of the board at the World Wide Wicket Company.

“It had three successful runs on Broadway,” Cavalier explained noting that the revivals have starred Matthew Broderick and Daniel Radcliffe. “But it’s something we’ve never done at the Playhouse, so it feels new, even though it’s old.

“It’s a throwback to 1961, kind of Jackie Kennedy meets big business. I think the older audiences will like the portrayal of big business. It might not be as well known, but when people see it, they’ll realize they’ve heard the music before,” the director continued.

“It’s a really funny, funny show with great characters and good old-fashioned Broadway music.”

It’s the music that appealed to Acosta, a rising sophomore at Northwestern double majoring in musical theater and English literature.

“It’s a unique score with a unique sound. This is one of the roles that’s been on the list of ones I’ve always wanted to do,” Acosta said.

“It’s been a crazy role to learn in only four weeks, but I know we’ll make it work. This cast is really, really incredible and insanely talented.”

Renee Gendreau is a lifestyles reporter at the New Castle News. Email her at

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