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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 12, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 07
How To... definitely succeeds!
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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How To... definitely succeeds!

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS
WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through February 21


How To Succeed (in Business Without Really Trying) - aka H2$ - is a classical musical with a great score. Originally produced in the early 1960s the show released several hit songs including the classic I Believe in You and The Brotherhood of Man, and has enjoyed not only a successful motion picture release but also two Broadway revivals.

The plotline is typical '60s, not difficult to follow, and full of characters that may be a touch sexist and stereotypical, but are zany and fun to watch. J. Pierrepont Finch is an eager go-getter wanting to rise (quickly) to the top from being a window washer. He finds a book (How to Succeed in Business) and uses the book as a guru guide for his ambitious climb. 'Ponti' (as he is called) climbs the corporate ladder at an amazing rate causing eyebrows to rise, a co-worker to become romantically interested, and creating an enemy from the sycophant nephew of the boss.

How to Succeed is a fun show and there is not a single person on the stage that does anything but a stellar performance. Eric Ankrim portrays J. Pierrepont Finch with the eagerness, vocals, and stage presence required. His boyish charm gives the character that extra 'umph' that is needed to make Finch believable in his charismatic climb to the top. Ankrim's talents exude in this show, whether it is singing/dancing or just having stage presence with a smile, and it is easy to see why he is the lead. Sarah Rose Davis is Rosemary, a corporate secretary that is determined to make Finch hers. While the character is written as satire, Rosemary is overly anxious to settle down with married life, Davis gives her personality that is easily endearing to the audience. Her voice (as she has proven in several 5th Avenue productions) is strong and Davis knows how to use her talents.

The two-standout performances are noticeable from the moment they walk on stage, the whiney nephew Bud Frump and the vivacious secretary Hedy La Rue. Adam Standley plays the oily nephew of the big corporate boss. Standley is a newcomer to the 5th Avenue and should definitely become a main staple in their repertoire. His voice is strong and he uses his body as a tool for comic precision. From simple facial expressions or tones in his voice to an overly exaggerated walk-off stage, Standley uses his talents to the best of stage abilities. He steals the scene (seemingly without trying) presenting an excellent counter-presence as Finch's nemesis.

Without a doubt Jessica Skerritt owns this show. As Hedy La Rue, the vivacious sex-kitten secretary, Skerritt wiggles charm with every hip-movement and step she takes. Not only beautiful, she finds a way to take the 'dumb-blonde' secretary to a new level of enjoyment capturing the attention of the males on stage, as well as every member of the audience. It takes a great deal of talent to portray a stereotype and still make it believable; this Skerritt does, and with excellent style. It may be sexist to watch every male character on stage lustfully follow her movements or make consistent innuendo about the character, but it is also easy to see why.

As with any musical the songs and dancing are a big part of the show. The choreography (by Bob Richard) is planned very well. The larger group numbers 'Coffee Break' and 'Paris Original' are staged beautifully allowing subtle movements to shine through. The breakout hit 'I Believe in You' staged in a men's washroom is done very well as is the rousing eleven o'clock number, 'The Brotherhood of Man'. The songs (music and lyrics) are written by the master Frank Loesser, who captured the early 1960s sentiment with rhythm and words. It is no wonder this satirical show won the Pulitzer Prize (1962) for Best Drama. Oddly, his Tony Award nomination was the only one not to win in its category for this show.

The 5th Avenue Theatre excels when focusing on the shows from the classical musical era. H2$ is not an exception in any way. The entire cast is highly enjoyable with several standout performances. The music is catchy and the storyline, while completely sexist and dated, is written in brilliant satire making the chauvinistic attitudes comical enough to laugh. How To... definitely succeeds.



How to Succeed... first opened on Broadway October 12, 1961 and ran for over 1400 performances. Nominated for eight Tony Awards that season (including Best Musical, Best Author, Best Actor, Best Featured Actor) winning in every nomination except Best Composer (Frank Loesser writing music and lyrics). Originally starring Robert Morse as the eager Finch (who went on to recreate the role in the 1967 film), the original cast also boasted Rudy Vallee (JB Biggley) and Charles Nelson Reilly (who won a Tony as Bud Frump). The show was awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1962. The musical enjoyed a revival on March 10, 1995 (running for 548 performances) starring Matthew Broderick (Finch) and Megan Mullally (Rosemary Pillkington). The show was revived once more in March 2011 allowing Daniel Radcliffe to star as Finch originally and Nick Jonas and Darren Criss to eventually take over that role.



How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying continues at the 5th Avenue Theatre through February 21. For more information and tickets, call 206-625-1900 or visit www.the5thavenue.org.

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How To... definitely succeeds!
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