Brandon Leoparti as J. Pierrepont Finch
Tim DeBorde as J.B. Biggley
Breanna Shuman as Rosemary Pilkington
Courtney Russell as Smitty
Jacob Taylor as Bud Frump
Theresa Buchanan as Miss Jones
Steve Cohn as Mr. Twimble
Steve Conrad as Wally Wompee
Aimee Low as Hedy LaRue
Evan Bowen as Mr. Bert Bratt
Tom DeBorde as Mr. Milton Gatch
Music & lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert
Based on the book by Shepherd Mead
“Orange Park Community Theatre is a family that plays together.”
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 book of the same name. The musical opened on Broadway in October 1961. The show won seven Tony Awards and a 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Director Tricia Williams’ version is a refreshing musical comedy playing at the Orange Park Community Theatre through June 26. If you like plays and/or musicals, make plans to see this one and support arts in the community. She delivers a fun tale with talented actors.
Act One opens with a young window washer, J. Pierrepont Finch reading a book, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The book tells him he will succeed if he follows its advice. In the next scene, Finch is in the lobby of the World Wide Wicket Company to apply for a job. He unwittingly bumps into J.B. Biggley, the president of the company who tells him to get out of his way. He uses his charm and quick thinking to manipulate a position in the company with Mr. Bratt. Within a matter of weeks, Finch rises from mail clerk to a young executive to head of a division. The play follows him on a journey as he uses flattery to learn bits of information that he uses take advantage of others.
The play is not only funny, but a little romantic as well. A young secretary named Rosemary falls head over heels for Finch from the moment she meets him. Throughout the play, Finch is focused on getting ahead and puts Rosemary aside. That does not deter her. She is loyal and just as driven to snag Finch as he is to snag Biggley’s position.
How to Succeed is a farce with a lot of interesting characters. One of the breakout stars is Jacob Taylor who portrays Biggley’s nephew Bud Frump. The young actor shines in the supporting role as Finch’s rival. Frump is just as hungry for a promotion as Finch. The contrast is he uses his connections and blackmail to advance, whereas Finch takes advantage of opportunities. Biggley’s mistress Hedy LaRue is hired as a secretary, even though she can only type 12 words per minute. Another star in this show is Courtney Russell who plays Rosemary’s best friend and co-worker Smitty.
The music was delightful and the storyline engaging. I was also impressed by the vocal talents and dancing abilities of the cast. The choreographer did an excellent job with the stage. The props were placed appropriately and the backdrops were nicely done. If I were in charge, I would consider leaving the desks in place (to save time), but change out the props to indicate a scene change. Even though the play was three hours, I stayed until the very end to find out how it finished. Since the show runs throughout June, I will not spoil the ending for those that are not familiar with the play.
Performances are held Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Intermission came 1 hour and 40 minutes into the play. Concession was open with a nice array of drinks for sale. Tickets are $25. Reserve online at www.opct.info or call (904) 276-2599
The Orange Park Community Theatre is run entirely by a professional and friendly volunteer staff. The theatre is located at 2900 Moody Avenue in Orange Park, just east of Blanding and south of I-295. ~ A.S. McLeod
- Mary Poppins, September 9 – October 2
- Unnecessary Farce, November 4 – 20
- Bye Bye Birdie, January 13 – February 5
- Glass Menagerie, March 24 – April 9
- Legally Blonde, June 9 – July 2