My date and I recently had a chance to catch the 5th Ave’s mounting of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying“, which is running January 28th-February 21st, 2016. Inspired the satirical novel of the same by Shepherd Mead, “How to Succeed” is a hilarious musical comedy with music and lyrics by Frank LoesserFrank Loesser (Guys and Dolls), and book by Abe Burrows (Guys and Dolls), Jack Weinstock (Catch Me If You Can), and Willie Gilbert (Catch Me If You Can). This production is directed by Bill Berry, who is the Production Artistic
In “How to Succeed” we follow young J. Pierrepont Finch as he uses the book’s insights to climb the corporate ladder of the World Wide Wicket Company; from lowly window washer all the way to chairman of the board! Along the way Finch catches the attention of a young secretary, Rosemary Pilkington, who despite her best efforts, often goes ignored as Finch makes his way to the top of the company. Finch is played by the talented Eric Ankrim, who brings a wonderfully funny physicality to this role, particularly during “Grand Old Ivy” where he tries to convince his boss they attended the same college. Playing opposite him as Rosemary is the beautifully voiced Sarah Rose Davis, whose high notes have a delightful, crystalline tone to them, especially in the number “Happy to Keep his Dinner Warm”, a tongue in cheek look at the duties expected of a traditional housewife.
How to Succeed in Business: Memorable Characters
The cast includes tons of other memorable characters, including Hedy LaRue, played by Jessica Skerritt, who is a hilarious send-up of the office sexpot, hired, not for her secretarial skills, but as a special favor to the President of the company. Allen Fitzpatrick plays the President of the World Wide Wicket Company, J.B. Biggley, a mockery of the classic tough-talking, misogynist boss of the 50’s; who has a secret passion for knitting and for Hedy LaRue, which is bound to cause trouble! Throughout the show, Finch is constantly getting tripped by Bud Frump, the President’s nephew, played by Adam Standley. Frump is played perfectly; you just have to hate him, always calling his mother when he doesn’t get his way while his uncle, J.B. Biggley tries his best to avoid charges of nepotism.
“How to Succeed” has tons of toe-tapping musical numbers, of which my favorites were “Rosemary” a classic and funny love duet, and “Brotherhood of Man“, a raucous 11th-hour song to distract the chairman of the board from taking drastic measures after a failed publicity stunt.
Up Next at the Seattle 5th Avenue Theatre
This is a top-notch production of this famous show and my favorite show I’ve seen at the Seattle 5th Avenue. Their next show is Assassins; February 27–May 8, 2016. I saw this Tony Award-winning show on Broadway in 2004 with Neil Patrick Harris. It was fantastic and he graciously posed for the photo above.