How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying                                                       

By Roz Friedman.

Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows were treasures of the American Musical Theatre. Their work in musicals like Guys and Dolls was shining and stands the test of time. This is very evident in the Pulitzer Prize winner, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, being given an especially polished production at Goodspeed through Nov 28. This show is scheduled for another Broadway revival in 2011, but I can’t imagine how they could top this fun-filled romp directed by Greg Ganakas and tightly Choreographed by Kelli Barclay. The modern set design is by Adrian W. Jones, lit brightly by Paul Miller. Gregory Gale’s Costumes are fine; Dan DeLange’s Orchestrations are lush.  

The role of J. Pierpont Finch is essential to the plot. In 1961, Bobby Morse wowed all in the original production; in 1995, Matthew Broderick did the same. Both won Tony awards. This seemingly naïve window-washer, determined to rise to the top of the World Wide Wicket Company, is played here by Brian Sears, who is wonderful, combining the best of Morse’s adorable charm with his own excellent voice and movement. 

Reading from a book for advice--the voice-over here is from Senator Chris Dodd—

Finch makes the most of every step, accidental and purposeful. Initially he meets and falls in love with Rosemary, played by Natalie Bradshaw, who is pretty and possesses a lovely voice. She knows immediately that he is for her. Working in the mail room, he competes with the boss’s wining nephew, Bud Frump, a part Tom Deckman imbues with great humor.  The excellent Ronn Carroll is J.B. Biggley; he has played it on Broadway. Nicolette Hart fulfills her role as the sexy Hedy LaRue, Biggely’s girlfriend; Jennifer Smith is a fabulous Miss Jones, who brings down the house in the next to the last number, “The Brotherhood of Man.”      

The score is suitable if not great. “I Believe in You” is the best song in the show and presented beautifully by Brian Sears and the Company. As he looks into the mirror, he’s all alone, building his own image, a symbol of many young men who ‘till this day must find a way to get a job and hang on to it.

How Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Pure delight at the Goodspeed Opera thru Nov 28.

This review originally aired on WMNR 88.1 FINE ARTS PUBLIC RADIO          


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