Walnut Street Theatre is succeeding in business! And we mean that in more ways than one. Despite being the oldest theatre in operation in the English-speaking world, the Walnut has consistently produced hits throughout its 205 years of seasons in Philadelphia. As they bring this season to an end, they continue to show that they are not only America’s oldest theatre but still one of it’s most successful. Walnut Street Theatre’s production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying brings new life to a Broadway classic. Filled with stellar talent, wonderful dancing and a production quality you can’t help but love, the Walnut has easily won over audiences and critics with this delightful remount.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is a hilarious musical featuring music and lyrics by Frank Loesser with a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. Lovingly ripped off of the best-selling book of the same title by Shepherd Mead, How To Succeed satires the 1960s big business world while following the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch as he makes his way from window washer to an executive. This classic Broadway musical is one of the greats! Having won not only the 1961 Tony Award for Best Musical but also the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, How To Succeed captures a period of American history like many musicals do not. It’s style, execution and catchy tunes all bring you into a world you can’t help but love. Walnut Street Theatre executes a brilliant rendition of this beloved Broadway classic. Directed by Casey Hushion with choreography by Michele Lynch, How To Succeed explodes off the stage bringing audiences easily back to the big business world of the 1960s like never before. Hushion’s direction is clear throughout the entire piece while Lynch’s choreography is dynamic and larger than life in this hit musical comedy. But what else did it take to create such a stellar production?
Step One; Leading Man. Jeremy Morse (Pictured Left) leads the entire production as J. Pierrepont Finch not only with extreme talent but does so making it look easy. From moment one, Morse captures the audience with his overbearing charm that brings you into his world and has you cheering him on wanting him to succeed as well. He hits all the marks throughout the production with fantastic dancing, vocals and never lets the comedy fall flat. His rendition of “I Believe In You” is especially wonderful. He is nothing less than a star. Step Two; Romantic Interest. Becky Gulsvig stars as Rosemary Pilkington in the production and is just as wonderful. She is funny, cute and easily brings to life the characteristics women during that period would have embodied. Her rendition of “Been A Long Day” besides Morse is adorable.
Step Three; Hilarious Sidekicks. From the annoying to Bud Fump to the man on top J.B. Biggley, Walnut Street has decked out this cast with only the best to assist Morse on his mission in leading a stellar production. Brian Shepard, who stars as Bud Frump, is Jim Carey like in his portrayal of the ever annoying nephew of the boss. Walnut vet Mark Jacoby (Pictured Above), who stars as J.B. Biggley, is stellar in capturing the character of the high-powered American executive during such a time. He opens up as the show goes on and is hilarious throughout. His rendition of “Love From A Heart Of Gold” is especially comical playing opposite Hedy (Amy Bodnar). Jeffrey Coon, who stars as Bert Bratt and the voice of the Narrator, is especially delightful throughout the entire production. He brings added life into the scenes he appears in and never fails to catch your eye when on stage. And let’s not forget the hilarious Joilet F. Harris, who plays Miss Jones, in the production and leaves the audience rolling just about every time she is on the stage.
Step Four; Tech. When it comes to the technical aspects of the production, Robert Andrew Kovach provides a wonderful unit set design that does just about everything the production requires. As doors open and close, units needed for the production enter and exit with ease never making it look like a struggle for the design to be executed. Paul Black provides a lighting design that is fun and period perfect. Or is that perfect, period? None the less, he hits the mark when it comes to the accents needed and his colors used during musical numbers only add to the joy already happening on stage. Liza Zinni provides a costume design that is spot on while Craig Beyrooti‘s sound design never ceases to fail or flaw.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying runs at the Walnut Street Theatre through July 13th, 2014 on the Main Stage. This is a wonderful musical to play Philadelphia this summer and remind us all just how great classic musical theatre can be when it is done right. Don’t miss it! As this fabulous production ends their current season, the Walnut prepares for a season like never before next year which includes 9 to 5, Disney’s Mary Poppins and the Tony Award winning Best Musical Memphis just to name a few. We look forward to attending those productions when they hit the stage. For more information, visit The Walnut Street Theatre’s Official Website! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!