BWW Review: VMT's HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING Finds Success with Young Star
Ladies and Gentlemen: Run, do not walk, to the Sandler Center to see How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (H2$), and witness the launch of what's sure to be a very successful professional theatre career for one local Virginia Beach high school senior. The hilarious, sharp-witted and sometimes irreverent musical comedy won eight Tony Awards and the Pulitzer for drama-one of only seven musicals to achieve this feat. The others include Hamilton, A Chorus Line, and South Pacific. The book and score are written by the same duo that wrote Guys and Dolls.
H2$ tells the story of a young window washer, J Pierrepont Finch (Andrew Nelin), who, with the help of a "how to succeed..." book; rapidly schemes his way to the top of the corporate ladder at the World Wide Wicket Company. Along the way, he befriends and falls in love with a beautiful secretary named Rosemary Pilkington (Elisabeth Evans). But climbing the ladder so quickly creates enemies for young Finch. As he grabs the attention of the big boss, J.B. Biggley (Michael Joyner), he also makes a few enemies, including Biggley's nephew Bud Frump (Conor DeVoe), who will stop at nothing to thwart Finch's rise to the top.
Director Chip Gallagher pulls out all the stops to bring the reality of corporate life in the 1960s to the Sandler Stage in H2$. Jeff Warner's choreography dazzles in ensemble numbers, such as "A Secretary is Not a Toy" and "Brotherhood of Man," and calls to mind big dances from the "Golden Age of Broadway." Under the careful direction of Dr. Andrew Haile Austin, and an orchestra that's as large as the 22-member cast, Frank Loesser's score is almost pitch-perfect.
Chris Gorman's top-drawer set design adds vibrant colors, LED lighting, and operational revolving doors and elevators that are used strategically throughout the show. Keith Schneider's costume design uses bright colors to great effect.
Broadway actress Elisabeth Evans gives an admirable performance as Finch's love interest. Her voice is best showcased during the classics "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm" and "Paris Original." Michael Joyner's J.B. Biggley offers great comedic timing, and Conor DeVoe's bratty Bud Frump is authentic. As Rosemary's best friend, "Smitty," Halley Daigle is an audience favorite in her show-stealing scenes.
Other local favorites Mike Dimirsky, Hannah Zilber, Scott Rollins and Heather Mayes add depth and humor to each of their respective roles; but the show shines because of Andrew Nelin's triple-threat talent, charm and comedic abilities. Audiences will quickly forget that he's a senior in high school as he carries the production with skill beyond his years.
H2$ runs through April 23 at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available at the door. Viewers of this review may request the Friends and Family discount at the door to save $20 on tickets. Student rush tickets are available for $12.