Musical comedy ‘succeeds’ through stellar cast, direction

Home Made Theater’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is a charmer. F

Home Made Theater’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is a charmer. From its opening number to its rousing finale, “Brotherhood of man,” it succeeds in capturing its audience’s appreciation.

Director Alma Becker has gathered a cast — the best of the best — and lit a fire under it. That is key to this light musical comedy, written by the creators of “Guys and Dolls,” that lacks substantive themes or memorable songs. It is Becker’s masterful touches that make magic of this production and will surely cause it to be a hit.

‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’

WHERE: Home Made Theater at the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga Spa State Park

WHEN: Through May 4

HOW MUCH: $25-$22

MORE INFO: 587-4427

The story goes that J. Pierrepont Finch (Matthew Streifert), a window washer, reads a pamphlet, “How to Succeed in Business,” follows its every directive, and enjoys a meteoric rise in the business world; specifically the World Wide Wicket Company.

On his way to the top (. . . “without really trying”), from mailroom clerk to chairman of the board, he encounters Bud Frump (Christopher Cook), the smarmy nephew of the boss, J. B. Biggley (John Sutliff), Rosemary Pilkington (Samantha Hooper-Hamersely), with whom he falls in love, and Hedy LaRue (Lily Robinson), a sexy bombshell. This magnificent cast numbers 23, so you may imagine he meets others, too.

While Finch is reading “How to Succeed in Business,” the secretaries in the firm are reading another pamphlet; “How to Hook a Tycoon and Take Him For All He’s Got,” the office manager, Miss Jones (Kate MacAllister), is attempting to keep the boss’s secrets, and the guys on the staff are figuring out how to get ahead.

A true leading man

Streifert is a leading man in every sense of the word (think Cary Grant). He displays wonderful comic timing and a solid singing voice. Cook is deliciously evil in his efforts to squash the ambitions of his rival (Finch). Hooper-Hamersely turns a bland role into a joyous romp and Robinson gives nuance to the ditzy blonde stereotype.

Of the ensemble, there are many standouts. I must mention Kathleen Dunham as Smitty, one of the secretaries, who does a particularly fine job in the number “A Secretary is Not a Toy”; John Sutliff, whose J.B. Biggley gives “Grand Old Ivy” the right amount of vigorous school spirit; and Kate MacAllister, who shines in the “Brotherhod of Man” number.

The scenic and lighting designer, the talented William E. Fritz, has created an attractive and utile set that serves the show beautifully and a quirky lighting design that audiences will find unusual in a musical comedy. Costume designer Diane O’Neil Filer offers up a parade of Technicolor costumes that are neatly placed in the sixties.

The band, Richard Cherry and Marilyn Buehler on keyboards, Richard LaPlante on reeds, and Jack Styczynski on percussion, underscore but never intrude on the action of the show.

Choreography by Ava Conoval is uncluttered and witty.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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