How To Succeed at EOS with Music and Lyrics

Review: EOS High School production of "How To Succeed in Business" "How to Succeed" is a success

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying

Writers: Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, based on Shepherd Mead's 1952 book of the same name.
Music and lyrics: Frank Loesser. Director: Lenore Grunko
E.O. Smith Theatre
10 February 2013

This production at E.O. Smith is a united whole, not a conglomeration of disparate elements.  The musical, and especially this production of it, reaffirm our faith in human courage and its ability to face both the external trials of making a living in a dog-eat-dog world, and the internal tribulations of remaining true to the ideals of love, honesty and perseverance.

Director Lenore Grunko brings a sense of justice and idealism to the production as she juxtaposes the collection of claw-your-way-to-the-top-at-any-cost characters with the idealism that lies just under the surface.  The casting seemed spot on.  EOS High School students were entirely believable as adults.  The cast is huge but the leads had a chance to demonstrate their skills; vocal performances were excellent. There was separation among characters and the various voices revealed character.  The very large cast played together seamlessly.  This kind of production should be encouraged.

Kyle Schoeplein made a perfect J. Pierrepont Finch.  He managed to cover a wide range of emotions and worked well with the other actors.   He acts with his body as well as his voice.  Every move and gesture was filled with energy and meaning.

 Rosemary Pilkington plays the tenderhearted ingénue secretary to Mr. Biggley with sweetness of voice and demeanor.  Her voice is beautiful and she has that rare quality in actors, the ability to listen and respond to those on stage with her.  Both the actress and the character are sensitive and responsive to their environment.

Caitlin Briody is a born actress; her sense of comic timing is impeccable.  Her characterization of Hedy LaRue as a brassy broad with a Brooklyn accent is wide open and over the top.  The trick when you go that far out on a limb is that you have to be able to maintain the character without ever backing down.  Briody nails it.  But bold and brassy isn’t the only note she can play.  When JB Biggley (played by Marc Trotochaud with a great look and a great voice) seems that he is about to get serious about their relationship, she turns her emotions on a dime and gives him a look of tenderness that could melt a heart of stone.  Briody had fun with this part and the audience had fun watching her.

Aiden O’Brien played the Nephew Bud Frump with just the right pitch of frumpiness, greed, and spoiled sense of entitlement.  Gemilath Mama as Smitty showed us her terrific voice as well as her sense of humor.  She has the range to carry an even larger part than Smitty and she filled the stage with her personality.

Tristan Bock-Hughes has a great stage presence.  When he steps forward he seems to take command of the space.  As Bert Bratt, his singing and acting have a self-assurance that tells the audience that they are in good hands and can relax and enjoy the show.  When ballet dancer Maya Schieber went from a shoulder sit to a fish dive into the arms of Bock-Hughes everyone in the audience caught their breath.  Schiber seems to have been tripling in several parts as an actor, a stage technician, and a ballet dancer.  She handled them all with aplomb, but her dancing was especially charismatic.  

The whole cast showed a sense of character development, pathos, humor, and timing; Paul Ference, Scotty Duval, Emma John, Matt Sibley-Jett stood out among many other excellent performers.

It seemed that there were no pre-recorded sound effects, but all music and sound effects were done by the live orchestra of 20 Musicians.  The pit orchestra, conducted from the piano by Ken Clark, played with skill and did a good job of supporting the singing, dancing and acting. There was considerable collaboration, concentration and cooperation among the actors, musicians and crew.  I mention the crew here because crew members would occasionally step into character as part of the cast.

The show’s choreography was very good and the tap dancers were an especially smooth unit.  Props were simple, appropriate, moved the story along and revealed character.  The set was a powerful evocation of New York in the 1960s.  Costumes were good, funny, evocative, an important part of the story of the play.  Direction, acting, and singing, were all of the highest caliber.

The audience was Wow’ed and so was I.

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Bruce John February 22, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Well written.
Cathy Kaylor February 22, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Very nice article for a talented group of student player! A LOT of time goes into a production of this size and it is wonderful to see the appriciation in this article.
Edmond Chibeau February 23, 2013 at 12:01 AM
The writer on the bus goes click click click... click click click
Scotty Duval February 23, 2013 at 06:25 PM
As an actor in the show, I'm very glad you enjoyed our performance. It's good to know that our hard work and MANY hours of rehearsal finally paid off. And with the snowstorm of 2013, we still managed to pull off having quite the audience.
Bub February 24, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Very nice review, although, I am surprised not to see Liam McLean's name mentioned. I felt that he was AMAZING in his many roles. I love watching him on stage and look forward to his next performance! Congratulations to the entire cast, crew, and pit! :)


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