Theatre Mirror Reviews - "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying"

by Tony Annicone

The last show of The Players 102nd season is "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". The musical first opened in October, 1961, ran 1,417 performances, won seven Tony Awards and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The show is about J. Pierrepont Finch, a young window cleaner in New York City, has a mind for advancement. A "Book Voice" tells him that everything he needs for success is contained within the book in his hand, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He enters the World Wide Wicket Company searching for a job. The audience observes how he climbs up the ladder of success, using many people along the way, meets the girl of his dreams, has many adventures and lives happily ever after. Veteran director Cait Calvo casts the best performers for these roles. Joe Carvalho not only plays lead keyboards for the show but taught the cast the intricate score.The dance numbers by choreographer Michael Johnson are very Fossesque with "Coffee Break", "A Secretary is Not a Toy" and the "Brotherhood of Man" as standouts.

David DeAlmo is excellent as J. Pierrpont Finch. He has a fantastic tenor voice which he uses in "How to Succeed", the duets, "The Company Way'' and "Rosemary" and the choral numbers "I Believe in You" and "The Brotherhood of Man". David shows how Finch uses his charm and wits to get ahead in the company and also demonstrates his softer side when he finally falls for Rosemary. He captures the essence of this character with ease and delivers tongue twisting dialogue wonderfully. I have been reviewing David since he was in high school and he has really grown as an actor and vocalist, delivering a tour-de-force performance as Finch.Kate Stevick plays Finch's girlfriend, Rosemary, with the right kind of spunk and determination on how she will capture the man of her dreams. She displays the character's longings in "Happy to Keep his Dinner Warm", her seduction of him with her new dress in "Paris Original" and her final realization of their love with the music in the background in "Rosemary". Kate has a beautiful voice and does a topnotch job as the long suffering woman of the 1960's. She and David have good chemistry together.

Adding to the merriment of the evening are the 3 biggest scene stealers. They are John Bergmark as the boss, J.B. Biggley, Sam James as the slimy, sneaky, Bud Frump and Laura Leach as the Betty Boop, dumb brunette, Hedy La Rue.John is hysterical as the constantly swearing, exasperated head of the company. He uses his facial expressions and comical voice to keep the laughter flowing.Sam is hilarious as the prat falling brat nephew who is always trying to get promoted by calling his mother to intervene. His manic performance keeps everyone in stitches and reminds you of Paul Lynde. John and David sing "The Old Ivy" which stops the show. Laura is a hoot as this airhead and uses her sexy moves and dumb blonde voice to capture the character perfectly. Her interactions with the men in the show are a joy to see. She and John have one of the prettiest duets in the show called "Love from a Heart of Gold" where they do a comic dance to it. They also have a trio with in "Been a Long Day" where their voices blend in gorgeous harmony with the chorus finishing it with a big crescendo.

Five other characters who stand out in the show are Smitty, Bratt, Miss Jones, Wally Womper and Twimble. Margarita Martinez as Smitty sings the lead in "Coffee Break" where she does a comic dance and also sings with David and in the trio of "Been a Long Day". Dennis Bouchard is high energy as the second in command, Mr. Bratt. He leads the chorus in "A Secretary is Not a Toy" and gives a comic performance throughout the show. Marshall Williams as Womper and Holly Applegate as Miss Jones do "The Brotherhood of Man" with Holly singing the high soprano obligato in it. I was in this show with Holly back in 1988 when I played Wally Womper. Stephen Kay makes Twimble into a song and dance man in his song with Finch called "The Company Way. They do a soft shoe during it. So for a rousing good time, be sure to catch "How to Succeed in Business" at The Players.

"How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" (13 - 22 May)
@ Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide