Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Also see Bill's review of Kooza
Venice Theater's production features Jason Ellis giving a winning performance as J. Pierrepont Finch, rapidly on the rise from window washer to executive vice president in charge of advertising. He was terrific a few months ago in Manatee Players' Legally Blonde; here he gives an all-out star turn. He is high voltage energy from start to finish, singing and dancing with professional polish. He is assisted by Timothy J. Fitzgerald, all bluster as company president J.B. Biggley, and Sarah Cassidy as wannabe girlfriend Rosemary Pilkington. Her "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm" is one of the evening's highlights, and she looks like a 1960s Betty Boop with a pageboy flip wig that would have been the height of fashion in the time period. Other strong assets in the cast include Laurie Colton as best friend Smitty, Danae DeShazer as Biggley's girlfriend Hedy LaRue, and Kim Kollar as his secretary Miss Jones. William Murphy as Finch's nemesis Bub Frump is scheming and funny, but could use just a little more bite. Other small featured roles are also well taken.
With all that is enjoyable about the production, it could use more tautness from director Brad Wages. The pace is good but it just doesn't have the follow through energy that this script demands to keep it fresh and as funny as it should be. The script can be a bit cartoonish in its treatment of the emotional elements of the characters; in fact, the movie version starring several people from the original Broadway cast played up this element strongly. Sets by Donna Buckalter use this cartoonish element as a theme. Costumes by Nicholas Hartman are excellent in their 1960s authenticity.
The day after I saw the show I received a press release announcing that Mr. Hartman, who also serves as Venice Theater Marketing Director and Press Liaison, is leaving after 7 years to pursue what sounds like a fabulous new opportunity in New York. We wish him the very best of luck, but he leaves huge shoes to fill as his work has always been of the strongest elements in any Venice Theater production.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying plays through December 2, 2012, so head to Venice for a laugh filled time. Venice Theater,140 West Tampa Ave., Venice, FL Box Office (941) 488-1115 www.venicestage.com/
Director/Choreographer: Brad Wages