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Porchlight Music Theatre’s “How to Succeed at Business Without Really Trying” Review - Delightful Romp Fueled by Cast Chemistry and Choreography

By Amy Munice

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Oh, but were Starbucks Corporation moxie enough to make the twitching ensemble song “Coffee Break” its anthem!



Or imagine if a corporate motivational speaker could break the ice with a rendition of “The Company Way”.



These are just two of the satirical and fun song and dance numbers in Porchlight’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” that will make you break out in ear-to-ear smiles, whether or not you think that “corporations are people too”. 



This play has the zeitgeist of the funniest Dilbert cartoon laced with melody.  You can’t take this show seriously and that is a very good thing.  Just get ready to laugh and enjoy yourself.



This Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Musical was based on the best-selling 1952 book of the same name.  In Porchlight’s most able hands, this fast-moving ensemble romp never has a sagging energy moment.  Just when you think that one of the actors is stealing the show yet another comes to be funnier still.  Best yet, this cast works wonders as a well-choreographed ensemble, with no discernible loose end.  Bravo to Director Rob Lindley, Choreographer Brenda Didier, and Musical Director Kory Danielson


It starts with the God-like voice of Bill Kurtis narrating the book of the title name and beginning with the admonition that anyone can get to the top if they don’t let lack of intelligence, talent or ability get in their way.  Window washer J. Pierrepont Finch (ably played by Tyler Ravelson) follows this book as a bible.  The story is about his meteoric rise to the top. 



At every step of the way you know it will end with Finch supreme and outplacing CEO Biggley (Fred Zimmerman) but knowing the ending is not a worry.  We also know the girl (Rosemary, played by Elizabeth Telford) will get the guy and that the whining nephew of the CEO  who plays the nepotism card at every turn (Bud Frump played with great shtick by John Keating)will get his comeuppance.



Sexpot character Hedy LaRue (Emily Ariel Rogers) takes this stereotype and runs with it in high-heeled low-cut clinging dress glory. 



Similarly the lyrics lampooning the secretarial pool’s fantasies of marrying an uprising corporate star make an early feminist point in much the same way that Stephen Colbert today takes on the persona of a right wing broadcaster.



This play weathers well with time, or at least it has in Porchlight’s hands.  Don’t hesitate to see it.  You may want to see it twice.


Running now through June 1 at Stage 773, 1225 West Belmont, Chicago.


Fridays – 8 PM


Saturdays – 4 PM and 8 PM


Sundays – 2 PM


Extra matinee May 29 – 1 PM


For tickets or information visit the Porchlight Music Theatre website or phone Stage 773 at 773 – 327 – 5252.   




Photos:  Kelsey Jorissen



Published on May 01, 2014

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