Success is measured not by money, but by talent.
Junior Veronica Diaz and alumnus Bill Duncan are quintessential examples of this concept, even though the songs and characters of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” convey quite the opposite.
The two are featured in the Roxy Theatre’s production of the Tony award-winning musical. Diaz, a psychology major and theater minor, plays the supporting actress Smitty, and Duncan, who graduated from the Frost School of Music in 1986, is the show’s conductor.
The satirical musical, “How to Succeed,” follows a young window cleaner as he climbs the corporate ladder through brown-nosing and working in “The Company Way.” The show originally opened on Broadway in 1961 and its revival season is now playing in New York City, starring Nick Jonas.
“It’s a bunch of different personalities that you never expect to mesh on stage flowing so easily together,” Diaz said about the show. “It looks so natural.”
Diaz has been participating in Roxy Theatre productions and classes since she was 13. Roxy Theatre is located across from Florida International University’s Modesto A. Maidique campus in West Miami. The performing arts center, which currently has about 550 students, offers voice, dance and drama classes, after-school programs, a summer camp and seasonal stage productions like “How to Succeed,” among other programs.
Along with performing, Diaz works as a lead teacher assistant in one of the theater’s afterschool programs.
“I do love theatre, but I’ve always like working with kids,” she said.
But, for Diaz, being on stage is a stress reliever.
“School can be a bit much to take in, as well as my job,” she said. “Doing this, even though its difficult, is a learning experience and it allows me to let go all of the stresses of the day.”
Diaz has been performing in the on-stage productions since last year, but she has been dancing at the center since it opened in 2002. After graduation, Diaz would love to continue teaching a class while attending medical school.
Although Duncan hasn’t been at Roxy as long as Diaz as, his daughters have been dancing there for almost nine years, when they were “tiny little ballerinas.” Now conducting his fourth show, Duncan said he was invited to his job at Roxy because of his daughters.
Duncan, who was a music education major with a voice principal at Frost, delved into mostly studio work, like songwriting and music arrangement, after graduation. But before Roxy, he had never done any conducting.
“UM helped tremendously,” he said. “I was very much thrown into the world of conducting. I saw many insane conductors go through master classes and I was able to be exposed to a huge plethora of style of conducting.”
During the Roxy main-stage performances, Duncan conducts a group of musicians from the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, a community orchestra program dedicated to training young musicians.
Duncan said that, although it can be time-consuming working with the symphony group as they learn the show’s music, “once they get it and the show starts coming together, you cant believe how much fun these kids are having.”
“I’m probably not like their normal conductor at school because I don’t do that for a living,” said Duncan, who works for the U.S. court system. “I’m a little more loose and I might exude a little more youthful type of nature during rehearsal. I won’t let them get away from things, but I think I make it fun for them.”
Both Diaz and Duncan, along with 70 other student actors and musicians, will be featured in “How to Succeed” through its entire run until March 3.
IF YOU GO
What: “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” a musical comedy
When: Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m.
Where: The Roxy Theatre, 1645 SW 107th Ave.
Price: $20, call 305-226-0030 for tickets
For more information, visit roxypac.com.