01 May 2012
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Long an occasion for high jinks and good laughs, the HBS Show was born in dark times. Oil shocks, inflation, and high unemployment were the order of the day when Joe Parrish (MBA 1974) pulled together Cheap Gas, the very first HBS Show. Parrish remembers a few things about that production, a series of sketches, namely that it included the use of rubber chickens and that he played the part of a nun. “I thought we needed something to lighten the mood,” he says. “Lots of people in my class couldn’t get jobs.”
Now a priest at the 306-year-old St. John’s Episcopal Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Parrish recalls being inspired by a similar style of show he had seen at Harvard Medical School (a trained biochemist, Parrish taught there briefly). He easily sold the idea to then-dean John MacArthur and funded the production on a $400 loan from the HBS Student Association. Proceeds from ticket sales quickly paid that off, with enough left over to purchase lights for future productions. (The first show premiered in Baker 100, a 400-seat space no longer in existence.)
Parrish and his wife, Janice (MBA 1975), whom he met through the show, return to campus annually to view its latest incarnation. So far, they’ve missed only once. This year, in honor of Parrish founding what has become a 38-year-old campus institution, the cast of An Offer You Can't Refuse honored him on April 10 with its first HBS Show Alumni Award.
Calling this year’s show a “spectacular spectacle,” Parrish describes the biggest change he’s noticed over the years: “The talent got to be stunningly good, with Broadway-quality singing.”
As a pastor, Parrish observes that he and Janice (who selects the music and liturgy every week) still put on something of a show every Sunday. “We may get fewer laughs, but hey, how many churches have rubber chickens?” he laughs.
Class of MBA 1974, Section E