The Cary Players will open their 2012-13 season with a lively community-theater production of the hit 1961 Broadway musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, on Sept. 28-30 and Oct. 4-6 at the new Cary Arts Center (formerly the Cary Elementary School) in downtown Cary, NC.
Actors Comedy Lab co-founder Nancy Gardner Rich will direct and choreograph this prize-winning show, which features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, based on the 1952 novel by Shepherd Mead. Nominated for eight 1962 Tony Awards, the show’s original Broadway production won seven Tonys — including the awards for Best Musical, Best Composer (Frank Loesser), and Best Author (Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert) — plus the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
When the curtain rises, says Nancy Rich, “Ambitious J. Pierpont Finch (played by Kevin Roberge) begins his meteoric rise from window washer to high-powered executive, using a self-help paperback. He encounters such familiar office characters as the compliant ‘company man’ Mr. Twimble (John Adams), the Big Boss J.B. Biggley (Jim Burnette), and his whiney nephew Bud Frump (Jaret Preston), backstabbing co-workers, the Boss’s sexy mistress (Ann Davis), caffeine addicts and, of course, his true love Rosemary (Sarah Winter). Add some dancing Pirates (Heather Shinpaugh, Paige Harper, Pimpila Violette, Josh Broadhurst, and Megan Woronka), and it’s just another day at the office!
“There are some [other] delightful characters along the way: Gatch (Phil Crone), Miss Krumholtz (Amber Ivie), Bratt (Phil Lewis), Miss Jones (Laura Siegel), Tackaberry (Bruce Stewart), Smitty (Natalie Turgeon), Miss Smith (Joyce Weiser), and the Scrub Woman (Ella Williams),” claims Nancy Rich.
She adds, “We have strong voices and full-cast dance numbers that will blow your socks off too! The ensemble features Mark Anderson, Angie Davis, Matthew Lahiff, Clint Lienau. Jonathan Skinner, Mark Taranto, and Tina Vance.”
Nancy Rich recalls, “I worked on the backstage crew as a teenager at Asheville Community Theatre when they did How to Succeed over 30 years ago. I had the biggest crush on the guy who played Finch!”
She adds, “I adore the early 1960s, so recent shows like ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Down with Love’ remind me of the great optimism of that era: the Space Age, modernist architecture, crazy fashion, television game shows, modern art. I am also a collector of mid-century furniture and live in a crazy mid-century house.
“I appreciate the light-hearted jabs at corporate America, advertising, modern relationships, and office politics,” Rich admits with a smile. “Not a lot has changed since 1961.”
In addition to director and choreographer Nancy Rich, the Cary Players’ creative team for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying includes producers Debra Zumbach Grannan and Sharon Galluzzo, music director Harrison Fisher, set designer and master carpenter Jon M. Dietz, lighting designer Michael Lefler, costumer David Serxner, assistant costumer Shoshanna Serxner, make-up designer Rebecca Barringer, properties designer Carole Kelly, sound designer and board operator Bob Kulow, and stage manager Michelle R. Wood.
Nancy Rich says, “[Scenic designer] Jon Dietz has come up with clever scene changes that take full advantage of the impressive fly-tower at the Cary Arts Center. Props have to be authentic to the era; and our props mistress Carole Kelly, has located hard-to-find things like a slide projector and screen, vintage office phones, and vintage liquor bottles.”
She notes that “[Lighting designer] Michael Lefler has well over 200 light cues designed to add to the magic of this show” and adds, “Our costumer David Serxner must have visited every thrift shop and vintage clothing store in the state to snag dozens of vintage fashion pieces, including nine outfits for Sarah Winter, our leading actress who plays of Rosemary.”
Rich says, “Cary Players partnered with Spoonflower [http://www.spoonflower.com/], a Durham custom-fabric printer for the fabric for seven identical dresses that appear in the roof party scene for a number called ‘Paris Original.’ Spoonflower held a national fabric design contest online, and over 300 designers submitted designs for the ‘mid-century cocktail party’ fabric. The winning fabric was chosen by David, it was printed for us, and his team assembled these remarkable cocktail dresses in less than three weeks.”
Nancy Rich claims, “This is a major musical with a large cast and a recent run on Broadway. This show has won multiple Tony Awards in its various productions over the years, with stars like Robert Morse, Matthew Broderick, and Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame). It has also won a Pulitzer Prize. For Cary Players to produce a show this big takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work, and a great deal of dedication. Cary Players has stepped up to the challenge!
“The venue is the Cary Arts Center, a state-of-the art facility in downtown Cary, with a beautiful theater, orchestra pit, fly loft, spacious dressing rooms, a lovely lobby, all-new lighting instruments and a modern control room,” says Rich. “The stage is big enough to accommodate a production of this size quite nicely, and all of the seats in the theatre afford a great view of the show.”
She adds, “One major challenge [in staging this show] was the requirement for several set locations, including the outside of the World Wide Wickets corporate headquarters, a lobby with an elevator with working doors and buttons, a television studio, a boardroom, an executive washroom with sinks and mirrors … this list goes on. Add to that the fact that everything must be built off-site and loaded in to the [Cary Arts Center]!
“We’re very lucky to have the one of the Triangle’s most accomplished and revered music directors, Harrison Fisher, for this production,” says Nancy Rich. “Harrison was working on Broadway as a musician and singer at the time of the original production in 1961 with Robert Morse [as J. Pierrepont Finch] and Rudy Vallee [as J.B. Biggley]. He saw the show multiple times, because his girlfriend was in the chorus!
She adds, “Harrison is such a wonderful resource, because he really understands the arrangements, the harmonies, the complexities, the stylistic elements of this era of music. The band for this show consists of some of the best musicians in the area, and we thank Harrison for tracking them down for us.”
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying director and choreographer Nancy Rich also wants to remind Triangle theatergoers that “Seating is assigned. So, get your tickets in advance to ensure the best seat!”
The Cary Players present HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and 29, 3 p.m. Sept. 30, and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4-6 at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary, North Carolina 27511.
TICKETS: $18 ($16 students and seniors 55+), except $15 apiece for groups of 20 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 800-514-3849 or http://www.etix.com/.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30th, performance.
The Musical: http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000043 (Music Theatre International) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Succeed_in_Business_Without_Really_Trying (Wikipedia).
The Director: https://www.facebook.com/nancy.g.rich.3?ref=ts (Facebook).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.
To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.