BWW Reviews: 'Dinner and a Show' - Walnut Street Theatre's HOW TO SUCCEED and LE PAIN QUOTIDEN
It was an evening full of success. Our first Philly stop takes us to an eatery just a block from the Walnut that has learned "how to succeed in business" by their dedication to serving simple elegant fare made with organic ingredients whenever possible. Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) which translated means "The Daily Bread" offers just that and so much more. With their first restaurant in Brussels in 1990 and over 200 locations worldwide, LPQ features the freshest artisan breads as a staple, the most decadent homemade preserves and spreads to top them and an array of uniquely prepared grains, cheeses, salads and specialty dishes for the most discriminating tastes.
We enjoyed their vegetable chili, Quinoa taboule, hummus, smoked salmon dishes all served with their famous breads and spreads. Located at 1425 Walnut St. Call 215.751.0570 or visit www.lepainquotiden.com
Walnut Street's "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"
It's not easy task to take a dated musical (1961) plucked from the past and breathe fresh life into it. However, director Casey Hushion (Elf, The Drowsy Chaperone, In The Heights) and choreographer and newcomer to the Walnut, Michele Lynch (Hairspray, The Full Monty) have managed to reinvent this classic into an enjoyable production that should delight Philadelphia's summer theater audiences.
First and foremost the entire cast is high energy, never missing a line, a step or nuance in their various characters. Jeremy Morse making his Walnut debut is more than up for the strenuous challenge of playing J. Pierrepont Finch, the window-washer who schemes his way to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Company using a self-help manual. Rosemary (Becky Gulsvig), the sweet husband-hunting secretary who lights up whenever Finch is in the room, is perky and adorable though her vocals are a bit shrill on the ears.
There is a collection of familair talented characters that make up the principal cast. Walnut veterans Cara Michele Miller (Peter Pan) as Smitty, personel dept. secretary is outstanding as is Jeff Coon (Music Man) who plays Bert Bratt, head of personnelas well as the Narrator. CEO of Wicket, J.B. Biggley is played by Broadway veteran and former Phantom Mark Jacoby (Walnut's Fiddler on the Roof). Jacoby is well suited for the role showing a knack for hidden humor. His "not- so-secret" gal on the side secretarial candidate Hedy La Rue is played hysterically by Broadway's Amy Bodner who co-incidentally played Ulla in Walnut's The Producers. A standout performance is offered by Brian Shepard (Broadway's Spamalot, Young Frankenstein, Follies etc.) who plays Bud Frump, Biggley's back -biting, over ambitious, untalented nephew determined to undermine Finch's promotional advancements.
The musical, starring Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee, on Broadway in October 1961 winning seven Tony Awards, the New York Drama Critics Circle award, and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 1967, a film based on the musical was released by United Artists, with Morse and Vallee recreating their stage roles. A 1995 revival was mounted and starred Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally
Sure, the comedy and antics are dated and corny, however there's much to enjoy in the glorious parade of Frank Loesser numbers - the wit of the lyrics and the bubbly orchestrations. Hushion's hard-driving choreography treats the songs like showstoppers from "Grand Old Ivy," to "Brotherhood of Man".
Scenic Designer Robert Andrew Kovach takes a simple central set design and creatively and effectively works out every scene in this Park Avenue high rise with the focus on the action and the characters flowing nicely from scene to scene.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying runs at the Walnut Street Theater, 825 Walnut St. Phila. through July 13th. For Tickets and more information call 215. 574.3550 Or visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org
PHOTOS: # 1 Le Quotiden courtesy www.lepainquotidien.com
Photo credits: Mark Gavin