BWW Reviews: Marvelous Production of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING by Stages St. Louis
The corporate business world of today is far removed from the tropes that abound in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and that's one of things that makes it so interesting and enjoyable to watch, particularly when it's a production as sharply staged and exuberantly performed as the current presentation by Stages St. Louis. This is the type of musical that this company really excels at, and the overall enthusiasm and energy expended on the stage of the Robert G. Reim Auditorium makes this show an absolute must-see!
The plot centers around the efforts of J. Pierrepont Finch, as he painstakingly follows the hilarious advice of a paperback titled How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying ( the show's script by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert was based on an actual book by Shepherd Mead) in order to climb the corporate ladder in the shortest time possible. But, can he find true love and adhere to "The Company Way" (from the fine score by Frank Loesser) once he falls for secretary Rosemary Pinklington?
Ben Nordstrom is simply a perfect fit as Finch, investing his character with an indefatigable charm that never wanes. Nordstrom's voice naturally meshes with the music as well, and he's smartly paired with the eager and equally appealing Betsy Dilellio as Rosemary. Whit Reichert is a delight as J. B. Biggley, the nutty boss of the World Wicket Company, and Heather Ayre's is a curvy riot as his mistress, Hedy Larue. Joseph Medeiros is wacky and outrageously over the top as Biggley's nephew, Bud Frump, and Steve Isom contributes nicely as the easily flustered personnel head Bert Bratt. Johmaalya Adelekan is strong as Biggley's secretary, Miss Jones, and Bill Bateman pulls double duty as company man Twimble, and chairman of the board Wally Womper. Claire Neumann also makes an impression as Rosemary's friend and fellow secretary, Smitty. In fact, the entire supporting cast is just terrific, including George Spelvin's work as the narrator.
Director Michael Hamilton's work here is just exemplary. Quick transitions (aided by James Wolk's coolly lit scenic design) keep the pace hopping, which is important when you've got a first act that's about an hour and 45 minutes long. Stephen Bourneuf's lively choreography adds another layer to this tasty confection, and Lisa Campbell Albert's musical direction is on point, as always. Jeff Shearer and Lou Bird have crafted an array of period costumes that artfully supplement the palette of colors that make up the production's overall look.
The current production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying by Stages St. Louis (through August 17, 2014) is marvelously performed and staged. If you're looking for something fun and vivacious, then you've got to check out this show.
Photo Credit: Peter Wochniak