Theater Review: 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying'

 

Theater Review: 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying'

 

Date: November 14, 2012
by: Paula Atwell | Theater Critic

 
 

 

A Broadway smash, and a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winner in the early 1960s, this zany, irreverent musical has enjoyed several recent revivals. It’s a perfect choice for community theater, able to draw from a host of happy volunteers to fill its huge cast requirements, and it’s a lot of fun to see so many people dressed in '50s and '60s crinoline or tube skirts, cavorting about an ample stage in unison. Brad Wages’ direction has produced an enjoyable and contagiously cheerful performance. He’s also created choreography that responds to the needs of his enthusiastic performers, and provides visually witty and satisfying entertainment for the audience.

Click here to view more photos from the production.

Based on the novel by Shepherd Mead, the play was written by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. The story is a satire of corporations, represented by the ‘World Wide Wicket Company,’ and of cynical office politics.

Young window washer, J. Pierrepont Finch, follows every step in the self-help guide, “How to Succeed In Business,” to work his way up the corporate ladder of success. Jason Ellis is perfectly suited for the role, most notably played by Robert Morse in the '60s and Matthew Broderick in the '90s, and he plays it with a boyish charm and naively self-centered cunning that renders him oddly lovable.

‘Ponty’ immediately impresses secretary Rosemary Pilkington, played with devoted sweetness by Sarah Cassidy, who expresses her longing to wear the ‘wifely uniform’ in the song, “Happy to Keep his Dinner Warm,” a title which says it all.

Finch goes about impressing his boss, J.B. Biggley, amply and jovially played by Timothy J. Fitzgerald, and undermining the boss’ lazy nephew, Bud Frump, petulantly represented by William Murphy. Biggley’s sexy mistress, Hedy La Rue, object of lust for the entire grey-flannel suited members of the corp, is delightfully delivered by sashaying Danae DeShazer. Laurie Colton plays Smitty, earnest, cat-eyed glasses-sporting secretary, who brings a fine voice to the musical numbers, including “Coffee Break,” and “Been a Long Day.” “A Secretary is Not a Toy,” was a real hoot, featuring David P. Brown. The show’s most memorable song, “I Believe in You,” is beautifully sung by Cassidy and Finch.

Also notable are the roles of Gatch by Phil DeNiro, Miss Jones by Kim Kollar, Mr. Twimble/Wally Womper by Neil Kasanofsky, Miss Krumholtz by Alana Opie, and Mr. Ovington by Scott Mersinger. Additional performers include Kenzie Balliet, Charlotte Crowley, Cammy Harris, Alex Mahadevan and Debbi White. Music direction by Michelle Kasanofsky, Sound design by Dorian Boyd, costume design by Nicholas Hartman, scenic design by Donna Buckalter and lighting design by David Castaneda.

 

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