Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 21, 2010

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CT
through November 28, 2010
by R.E. Smith

"How to Succeed in Business. . ." is a musical that is as much fun to watch as it is to hear.  Colors, shapes, choreography, and costumes all serve to enhance and propel the story of J. Pierrepont Finch.  "Ponty" is an ambitious window washer who  flatters, winks, and ingratiates himself a quick move up the corporate ladder.  Despite the play's being over 40 years old, the characters of this business world will be quite familiar to today's "tired working man.”

Every member of the cast and ensemble is top-notch.  One could choose to watch any supporting player in the background for a whole scene and still be treated to a well-rounded, smile-producing, performance.  The choreography is energetic and strong.  The show’s biggest stopper, "Brotherhood of Man" can barely be contained in the Goodspeed's intimate setting.

Photo By Diane Sobolewski
Despite the male protagonist, the ladies are really in charge of this "Business.”  Natalie Bradshaw, as Rosemary Pilkington, has the presence and voice of an ingĂ©nue from an earlier time.  Her voice is strong but sweet and she has a confident sparkle in her eye.  Erin Maguire as "Smitty," Rosemary's best friend, has the genuine voice, rhythms, and delivery of a classic screwball comedy "pal.”  From Jennifer Smith's executive secretary to Nicolette Hart's blond bombshell, every actress delivers strong style, wit, and comedic chops.

Even the set is a stand out.  Since the Goodspeed is often home to revivals set in more rustic or rural times, it is a bit startling to see the "modern" lines and colors of the early sixties.  But what a unique and lively set it is!  Doors and panels slide about, shuffle, and rearrange, creating offices and elevators.  Desks, chairs, and coffee carts glide around giving every transition a fluid energy.

The score by Frank Loesser includes classics like "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm", "Grand Old Ivy," and "The Company Way".   Audience members will literally tap their feet along with the score.  As always, the Goodspeed proves that "they don't make them like this anymore," but shows like this are every bit as worth seeing as ever.