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BWW Reviews: Theater Works Revives HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

In 1952, Shepherd Mead published How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a guidebook to climbing the corporate ladder. Translated to the stage with Frank Loesser's music and lyrics and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, H2$ was a hit, won seven Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize, became a staple for community theaters, and celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Broadway revival in 2011.

Albeit corporate American culture and the role of men and women in the workplace have evolved in significant ways since the '60's, it would be naïve to suggest that its office politics and cutthroat pathologies, before and after, altered. Think What Makes Sammy Run? and Nine to Five!"

So, when Theater Works hoists "Power, ambition, greed & love... it's just another day at the office!" as the promotional banner for its recent production of H2$, it ain't far off in giving the audience something to chew on that remains relevant and sings volumes about character and integrity.

Theater Works regularly gives good theater and, although its production of H2$ has ended its run, it deserves a tip of the hat for mounting a show that clearly pleased its audiences and that featured some fine performances. This is not to say that, on the day I attended ~ its final show, I was 100% satisfied.

H2$ is the story of the accelerated rise of the young, ambitious, and wily J. Pierrepont Finch from window-washer to the executive office of World Wide Wicket. As it is so well-known, no need here really to reconstruct the plot's details.

Directed by Toby Yatso, the first act seemed to lack oxygen. Had the cast exhibited the same level of energy at the front end as it did in its powerhouse ending (The Brotherhood of Man), I would have loved the show instead of just liking it. The pacing seemed stilted, the casting was uneven, some of the singing was pitchy, and the relationships, particularly between Finch (Joshua Vern) and office secretary Rosemary (Aya Nameth), were unconvincing.

On the other hand, there were some notable turns that merit a strong shoutout. Mr. Vern gave it his multi-talented all in song and dance as the crafty but almost admirable Finch. Michael Schwenke was hilarious as the equally ambitious nephew of WWW's big boss, outmatched at every turn by his nemesis Finch. Jeffrey Middleton delivered an almost lovable teddy bear of a big boss, Jasper B. Biggley. Last but definitely not least, Osiris Cuen spiced the show with a delightful Judy Holliday-esque portrayal of Hedy LaRue, another up-and-comer in her own right.

Photo credit to Moran Imaging


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From This Author Herbert Paine