HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (Walnut Street Theatre): 60-Second review

The Company. Photo by Mark Garvin.
The Company. Photo by Mark Garvin.

The iconic Walnut Street Theater closes out its impressive 205th season with the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. Based on the book by Shepherd Mead, the musical (music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert) is presented in by the Walnut Street on its main stage in conjunction with the Vero Theater in Florida. Directed by Casey Hushion and choreographed by Michele Lynch, the production embodies what is expected of Philadelphia theater.

J. Pierrepoint Finch (Jeremy Morse) is a determined window washer with a handbook “How to Succeed in Business” and a dream to navigate the corporate maze. Step one: apply for the job at a major corporation. He finds himself at the World Wide Wicket Company. He meets helpful and beautiful Rosemary (Becky Gulsvig) who vows to herself to help him in his quest. His accidental run-in with president J.B. Biggley (Mark Jacoby) sends him, rebuffed, to personnel manager Mr. Bratt (Jeffrey Coon). Landing his foot in the door, he uses wit, wisdom, and cunning to stave off competitors and reel in his bread and butter. 

The actors’ carefully-played antics envelop the audience into a swarm of hilarity, drama, and of course familiarity. This is a well thought-out, well-constructed production: the actors own their roles, choreography is ridiculously on-point, the set is remarkable, the music amazing, and the audience abuzz. [Walnut Street Theater, Philadelphia] May 13-June 13, 2014.

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