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Review: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at the Goodwood Institute

Review By Lia Cocks ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert and Tony Award-winning musical with Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser, is a story about the triumph of the typical man amid the mockery of big business. Once again, March Productions brings a quite adult-themed musical to life with a young cast, and while the wordy and 1960s dated show proved a little challenging at times with some stumbles over monologues, producer Alice Kennett should be very proud of the modern and sophisticated end product. The stellar production team of Michelle Davy, Mark DeLaine and Brady Lloyd should be highly applauded for their fabulous work on this little gem. When a restless, ambitious and charmingly manipulative window washer named J.Pierrepont Finch (that’s spelt F.I.N.C.H) comes across a book entitled ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’, he decides to begin his climb up the corporate ladder. Guided by the Voice of the Book, and a dose of his own canniness, Finch begins his ascent by landing a job in the mailroom at the World Wide Wicket Company, before quickly gaining promotion after promotion and outsmarting and outwitting his scheming and blubbering rival, Bud Frump, who also happens to be the boss’s nephew, until finally reaching the top of the organisation as Chairman of the Board. From the very beginning, Finch has had the love and support of Rosemary, a marriage minded secretary who noticed Finch and recognised his potential immediately and finds his innocent demeanor endearing initially. However, his single-minded pursuit of success is dangerously discounting Rosemary’s love, and her patience wears thin. In a moment of disaster, Finch’s manual to success can no longer assist him; he must now rely on his own wits, intellect and ultimately his heart, to save the day, and the company. As I sat and watched the Groundhog cast, I have no doubt the Chipmunk cast will be just as sensational. While the cast of seemingly thousands worked incredibly well together, there are notable standouts. Harry McGinty as the story’s protagonist Finch plays the clear-eyed, unquenchable and almost mischievous hero to perfection. His melodious, tongue-in-cheek, ode to himself ‘I Believe in You’ over the washroom basin is a highlight, as is his impressive dance skills in ‘Brotherhood of Man. Rosemary, played by the lovely and enchanting Sienna Bertram, is the secretary more interested in finding a man than advancing her career. Her rendition and subsequent reprisals of ‘Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm’ are honest, true and utterly engaging. Joel Castrechini’s portrayal of J.B Biggley; the stuffed-shirt, philandering President of World Wide Wicket with a penchant for knitting and passion for his Old Ivy ‘Groundhogs’ has a very Zach Galifinakis feel about it - and I love it! The dry, sarcastic, cynical secretary Smitty is played by the very talented triple threat Zara Blight. Her performance in ‘Been a Long Day’ and the surreal and super funny ‘Coffee Break’ had a brilliant edge to it. Pru Cassar as the buxom and provocative Hedy LaRue was a match made in casting heaven! She brought the dim-witted but manipulative woman to life with impeccable comedic timing and hilarity in her voice. Loved her! But the undeniable standout for me, was Kristian Latella as the bumbling, calculating, arrogant sycophant, Bud Frump. Constantly trying to advance his career by exploiting his family connections, as nephew of Biggley, he plays this character to genuine perfection. Reminiscent of the good old Jerry Lewis and the slapstick comedians of that era, Latella held the stage every time he entered. This 17 year old is one to watch. Brilliant staging and choreography, excellent direction, glorious orchestration and musical direction and a fabulous principal cast and ensemble, make ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ one of my favourites. I look forward to seeing the shows of March Productions every year!

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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