Cappies Review: Bishop Ireton's 'How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying'
Cappies review by Kristen Popham of Chantilly High School.
The curtain parts and lights illuminate a man resting on a window-washer swing, calmly reading while drifting 10 feet off the ground. He is J. Pierrepont Finch, a man whose ambitions were unlimited and whose approaching success was attributed to the book in his hands. The audience's journey has only merely begun, for dazzling '60s attire, fast-paced, polished comedic beats, and endearing characterization was in store in Bishop Ireton High School's production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, musical by Frank Loesser with a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, is a recipient of high acclaim and seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book. In addition, the musical team was presented with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1962, and since then, has prompted several award-winning revivals.
The story follows a young and enthusiastic man, J. Pierrepont Finch, whose thirst for power is fulfilled by a book that effortlessly transforms an ordinary window washer into chairman at the board of World Wide Wicket Company (literally, effortlessly). But as Pierrepont comfortably climbs the corrupt corporate hierarchy, he encounters love, companionship, and one ornery enemy in one of Broadway’s classic comedies.
Bishop Ireton’s performance was vivacious. The tireless, aggressive energy of the cast was commendably maintained and every actor was animated through the duration of the production. A fast-pace remained consistent and coherent and left the audience roaring with laughter.
Among the vast and talented company was the Executives, whose individual characterization, though evident, was brought together to form a comical ensemble of power-hungry men. Their notable posture and mannerisms helped successfully depict them as middle-aged. The song, “Brotherhood of Man,” highlighted these aspects, and more, such as impressive dancing, vocals, and the inclination that these actors were having the time of their lives.
Joey Ledonio (J. Pierrepont Finch) led much of the show’s stamina and characterized Finch as a lovable and valiant protagonist whose sometimes-idiotic decisions are easily overlooked. Ledonio has impeccable vocal technique, facial expression, and stage presence. He made the art of musical theatre appear effortless; similar to the way Finch portrays his rise to successful businessman. His performance was supplemented by love interest, Angelica Miguel (Rosemary), whose alluring voice mixed well with that of Ledonio.
Rosemary’s meddling best friend was Smitty, played by Abby Giuseppe. Giuseppe was magnetic; she harnessed Smitty’s flamboyant personality with colorful physicality and vibrant faces. Another example of an actor grasping their ludicrous character was Rolf Lundberg as Bud Frump. He was the troublesome mama’s boy who sought to provoke demise in mortal enemy, J. Pierrepont Finch. Through facetious (and wacky) dance moves and distinct vocal/physical choices, Lundberg depicted the classic tattletale we love to hate.
The technical aspects to the show were equally as effective as the acting. The lighting contributed to the feel of the show, which was everywhere from romantic to intense to light-hearted. The set was complex, yet not overpowering. The audience was inside the two-story World Wide Wicket building and saw activity on all floors because of the open landscape. Costumes, hair, and makeup contributed to the portrayal of the 1960s time period.
“Mediocrity is not a mortal sin,” says J. Pierrepont Finch. However, lucky for Bishop Ireton, their production was far from mediocre.