BWW Review: HOW TO SUCCEED at Gay Men's Chorus of DC
How To Succeed has always been on my list of musicals to see, but hadn't gotten the opportunity to experience, until I saw the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC's production at the beautiful and ornate Lincoln Theater. The original Broadway show ran for fourteen hundred performances and picked up the Tony-Award for Best Musical and Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1962. The show has been revived several times on the Great White Way, including the 1995 production starring Matthew Broderick and the 2011 revival headlined by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying tells the story of J. Pierrepont Finch and his rise to the top of the corporate ladder with the aid of a simple self-help book. Along the way, he learns how to find your name on the door and win the secretary's heart quicker than you can say "nepotism."
The Gay Men's Chorus of DC interpreted what some call an 'older musical' and gave it a fresh spin: injecting a somewhat simple plot with the bright and colorful spectrum of today. By assigning it a generic time period, it allowed audience members of young and old to relate to the comedic story. The choice of having the character Rosemary portrayed as a male by actor (Paul Negron) turned the usual heterosexual relationship between Rosemary and Finch into a relatable homosexual connection.
I have to say that the highlight of the production was performer Michael Dumlao, whose Smitty left me wanting more. His sass and expertise comedic timing would always keep the scene rolling and reinvest the audience into the story. I left wanting to see a spin-off musical strictly starring Dumlao's interpretation of the hilarious character. D'AnDrew Parker also made a great impression, playing a lovingly menacing Miss Jones, who seemed to draw applause from every time an entrance was made.
Rinaldo Martinez does an excellent job of portraying lead J.Pierrepont Finch, allowing his precociousness and persistence to shine through his ulterior motives. Martinez's vocals sounded very similar to the stylings of Daniel Radcliffe from the most recent revival.
The production was conceived by John Moran, who had been with the Chorus for over thirty years but died suddenly during the past holiday season. The show had already been cast and had their first read-through, music director Thea Kano decided to step up to the plate as director. "When we programmed this show a year ago I was not going to be the director at the time, but I decided to do it. Having lost John, there's been such a beautiful team effort. When we all came back after the holidays we just locked arms, we are really taking care of each other and making it happen. It's been fantastic."
With a predominantly male cast, "How To Succeed" is told in a way never done before.
The book for the musical was written by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gibert and is based on the book by Shepherd Mead. Music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser (composer of Guys & Dolls and The Most Happy Fella). The show was originally produced on Broadway by Cy Feuer and Ernest H. Martin in association with Frank Productions. GMCW's production is produced through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.
The Gay Man's Chorus of Washington, DC is celebrating its 36th season by a selection of dynamic and socially relevant material. Having over 250 singing members, two vocal ensembles, 100 support volunteers, 400 subscribers, 500 donors, and an annual audience of 10,000 they have made quite the impact on the DC artistic community.
Ticket prices range from $25 to $65 and can be purchased by calling 1-877-435-9849, online at GMCW.org or in person at the 9:30 Club box office, located at 815 V Street NW. Box office hours are 12-7pm Monday to Friday.