Los Angeles Theater Preview: HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (Musical Theatre West)

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by Tony Frankel on March 2, 2015

in Theater-Los Angeles

MUSICAL THEATRE WEST KNOWS HOW TO SUCCEED

Reams can and have been written about the glories of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock & Willie Gilbert, the 1961 musical satire that landed virtually unanimous raves would go on to run for over three years (1,417 performances) making it the fifth longest running musical at that time.

The news here is that Musical Theatre West, which has offered some of the finest nights in the theater with their Reiner Series staged concerts, offers up Broadway performers, choreography, and an 18-piece orchestra live on stage on Sunday March 8 at 7:00. It’s one-time-only magic, and a highly recommended affair. It’s fascinating how enjoyable MTW’s concerts have been, considering there are no sets, minimal costumes, and scripts in the actors’ hands when they speak dialogue (an Equity rule).

The story: Ambitious window washer J. Pierrepont Finch happens upon a book that offers instructions on the quickest way up the corporate ladder to success. Following the book’s instructions, Finch quickly lands a job in the mailroom of the World Wide Wicket Company. With the help of his handy book, Finch quickly gains promotions, outsmarts his rivals, and wins the love of a secretary at the company.

Bookwriter Abe Burrows has been one of the American theatre’s most consistently successful theatre craftsmen—as a playwright, director and play-doctor—since he scored his first hit, the memorable Guys and Dolls (with songs also by Frank Loesser). But few know that Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert were, respectively, a New York physician and—believe it or not—his patient, a transplanted Clevelander who turned to entertaining. The two teamed up to write nightclub material for Kaye Ballard and other celebrity entertainers, and later wrote sketches for the Broadway review Tickets, Please. From there they moved into TV, contributing scripts to a variety of dramas and comedies including over 1,000 scripts for Howdy Doody.

After reading Shepherd Mead’s same-titled book, they tried to adapt How to Succeed into a straight comedy. After original producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin read the script, the team was persuaded into turning it into a musical comedy. They followed the success of How to Succeed with a mystery comedy Catch Me If You Can, which enjoyed a three-month run.

MTW’s production stars JORDAN LAMOUREUX, ASHLEY FOX LINTON, DAVID KIRK GRANT, DINO NICANDROS, MELISSA FAHN, KIRKLYN ROBINSON, RANDY BRENNER, ZACHARY FORD, WILLIAM MARTINEZ, ROBERT HOYT, MICHAEL DOTSON, JILL VAN VELZER. Also appearing are RACHEL DAVIS, MARISA FIELD, JANE PAPAGEORGE, FRANKIE MARRONE, and JON M. WAILIN.

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Musical Theatre West
part of the Reiner Staged Reading Series
University Theatre at CSULB
(corner of 7th and East Campus Drive)
Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 7:00
for tickets (only 27 bucks!) visit MTW

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