Marriott’s How To Succeed Climbs The Musical Ladder
Reviewed By: Russell Goeltenbodt
Climbing the corporate ladder is never an easy task. However with the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, it appears to be very seamless. This show now appearing at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre still has all of the appeal to experience enjoyable musical theatre.Set in the 1960’s, Succeed has the signature throwback lighthearted feel, beautiful costumes, wonderful music and fabulous choreography. The book is by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, with a wonderful score by Frank Loesser. The story starts with a young man, J. Pierpont Finch, (played by Ari Butler); who is a window washer at a corporate office building. Pierpont wants more than just being a window washer; he wants to become a successful business man. To give him guidance he starts reading a self-help book entitled, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. This book gives him the information he needs to reach his goal and moves from window washer, to the mailroom, to contracts and shortly to Vice President of Advertising.
Finch comes across as this nice sweet hard working guy with a secretive devious side that becomes as endearing. Ari Butler is the perfect actor for this role, with his little devious smile every time the light shines on him when he reaches his goal. Ari’s singing and dancing is superb and he has just the right amount of charisma to be J. Pierpont Finch.
Jessica Naimy also proves to be perfect for the part of Secretary Rosemary Pilkington who becomes J. Pierpont’s love interest. Jessica and Ari sort of have a Rob and Laura Petri (Dick Van Dyke Show) chemistry. They mesh very well creating the comic love interest for the story.
Even though, Ari and Jessica were the leads, I’ll have to say that the strong comic timing of Alex Goodrich who plays Bud Frump who is the boss’ wife’s nephew really steals the show. Alex is no stranger to Marriott Lincolnshire after his successful appearance as Buddy in ELF last fall. He truly has a gift of being a perfect character actor with perfect comedy timing.
Angela Ingersol who plays Hedy LaRue equally steals the show as the boss, J.B. Biggley’s girlfriend. Angela comes across with a mixture of Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe and is really funny and entertaining in her role. Terry Hamilton who plays J.B. Biggley gives a strong performance as the boss who has a secret love interest on the side.
What a treat to have Felicia Fields appear as J.B.Biggley’s Secretary Miss Jones and give her rousing scat during the song Brotherhood of Man. Miss Fields still is a show stopper.
The entire cast of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” provide strong support with their singing and dancing bringing forth a fantastic musical experience. The direction by Don Stephenson and amazing choreography by Melissa Zaremba were flawless. The sets were perfect and I loved the use of the umbrella chairs with the cane handles and the synchronized tap shoes sounding like type writers. Very clever. Additionally, I have to give kudos to Set Designer, Tom Ryan who finally realized that the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre is in the round and that the sets should not obstruct the audience view. I’ll have to say that the last few shows have done the same and it has created a much more pleasant experience in viewing the show. So on behalf of the audience, thank you Tom. I do have to also mention I loved the 1960’s costumes by Costume Designer, Catherine Zuber. The costumes were colorful and appropriately depicted the 1960’s. The musical direction by Ryan T. Nelson was wonderful.
The interesting thing about “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is that it happens in the 1960’s. The business world was an entirely different place 50 years ago. Women are now CEOs, men are now Administrative Assistants (secretaries), and most of the barriers are thankfully gone for women in business. Some of the mischief and sexual harassment during the show and during this time period unfortunately happened. I am glad to say that it is not happening as much today but it is still happening. Thankfully many businesses have zero tolerance with sexual harassment. Seeing “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” reminds the audience of those difficult times. Additionally, there are still many people in business who have the same ambitions as J. Pierpont Finch, and are not as nice. It is great to see a show to look at some of the ridiculous things that are happening in Corporate America to make us laugh.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying runs through October 16, 2016. Performances and tickets are listed on the Marriott Lincolnshire website. (www.marriotttheatre.com.), or call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847-634-0200, or go to www.ticketmaster.com.