Critic’s Choice: Remounted ‘How to Succeed in Business’ rings true
Marriott Theatre continues its season with a smart revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
Director Don Stephenson takes a fresh look at the acclaimed 1961 Broadway musical comedy and finds much to like. Decades have passed since the show’s debut, but the power struggles, sex, ambition and greed surrounding the climb up the corporate ladder are just as emotionally involving now as then.
Opening-night audiences roared at the nonstop jokes, oohed and aahed at Melissa Zaremba’s imaginative choreography and delighted in Catherine Zuber’s original costumes.
The production benefitted from sound underpinnings including music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and solid book by Abe Borrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert as well as the assured musical direction by Ryan T. Nelson and snazzy set by Thomas M. Ryan.
For the finishing touch, add to the mix a flawless cast led by Ari Butler as the ambitious, smooth-talking J. Pierrepont Finch, who just happens to find himself in the right place at the right time.
Butler’s character is a young window-washer keen on making his mark in the corporate world. He takes his cue from a self-help guide designed to help him to navigate his way to the top from a menial position of a giant multinational enterprise, World Wide Wickets.
Capitalizing on a brief chance meeting with the company’s chief executive officer J.B. Biggley (Terry Hamilton), Finch manages to get a foot in the door and join the mailroom crew. He soon finds himself bumping heads with Bud (Alex Goodrich), the boss’s cantankerous nephew who tries to sabotage Finch’s career at every turn.
Finch finds friendship – and office romance – in Rosemary (Jessica Naimy), a secretary, and support from an alliance with Miss Jones( Felicia P. Fields), Biggley’s formidable executive assistant with a commanding set of vocal chords.
Angela Ingersoll gives an over-the-top performance as the ditzy sexpot and special friend of Biggley.
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” parodies some politically incorrect songs of the 1960s era, including such charmers as “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm” and “A Secretary Is Not a Toy.”