At intermission the woman behind me stood up, too, to stretch.
“How long?” I asked.
“One hour and 40 minutes.”
Not “Yikes!” because we still had Act II to go. (Of course, getting a bit of sugar at intermission is not a bad idea because sitting doing anything for that long might make you snoozy.) But I had been thoroughly engaged by Act I and was looking forward to more pleasure in Act II.
And I got it, thanks to the tireless troupe at SLOC, under the inspired work of producers Amy Clark & Jill Ross, director Michael Camelo, music director Adrienne Sherman, and choreographer Trish Scott-Dembling.
If I take exception to a line in Camelo’s program note — ”Finch proves to us that with determination, hard work and a lot of luck, we can make something of ourselves” — it’s because I think that the book of this Pulitzer Prize-winner takes a more cynical swipe at the way we get ahead. (I couldn’t help but relish the name of the corporate boss, Mr. Biggley, and the last lines of the play, referring to someone from business ultimately becoming President.) Hard work? Not always. And that’s what makes the piece relevant and memorable.
J. Pierrepont Finch (Nicholas Harry Edwards) is a window washer who aspires to climb into the upper-floor offices he cleans. One day he literally runs into the World Wide Wickets boss (Matthew W. Coviello). Taking advice from a self-help book (delivered in an aptly glossy voice-over by Johnny Ray), young Finch finds himself in — and insinuates himself into — various company jobs, each one a rung up the corporate ladder.
Along the way he stumbles, but thanks to the love of a good secretary, Rosemary (Christine Meglino), he always rights himself.
On a “Mad Men”-era, blue and Pepto-Bismol pink, multi-purpose set by Marc Christopher and dressed and coiffed appropriately by, respectively, Connie Rowe Rauhauser and Nichole Burkus, the ensemble of secretaries and up-and-coming execs sing (and dance) about coffee, the company way, secretaries and getting ahead.
(If the complex choreography for “Brotherhood of Man” seems at odds with the song’s revival nature, the ensemble delivers it — like everything — with panache.)
SLOC vet Dave Dixon is sweet as Twimble and rough-and-tumble as Womper. James Alexander does well by Bratt, the weary sycophant. Elizabeth Corey gives such a high-energy performance as Smitty that you can’t wait for her next appearance. Coviello ably reveals the little boy in “Grand Old Ivy,” which makes you concerned for the company he’s leading. (Ahem.)
Joshua DeMarco is hysterical as Bud Frump, a nepotistic office worker who tries to out-Iago the real Iago, Finch. As Hedy La Rue, the blond whose elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top, Kaeli Heffner is a comic pleasure.
Edwards gives Finch such a white-toothed, winking smile (enhanced by Greg Rucinski’s lighting) that you almost root for him even though you know he’s cutting corners. This young actor acquits himself with fine singing and dancing, and his capable acting skills will no doubt sharpen as he takes on more lead roles.
And Christine Meglino is my choice for Audrey the next time someone does “Little Shop of Horrors.” Here, in song and acting, she makes Rosemary innocent, earnest, and honest — a three-dimensional performance that anchors the entire proceedings.
A long show, yes. But the production is so sparkling on every level that you will be thoroughly entertained without really trying.
‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St.
WHEN: Through May 14
HOW MUCH: $28-$22
MORE INFO: 1-877-350-7378, or sloctheater.org
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