Success: Award-winning musical hits town
The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, opening this week, is the first production in UVA's Heritage Repertory Theater's summer season. This year the company will produce five shows over the course of the next two months, including Crimes of the Heart, Fully Committed, The Last Night in Ballyhoo, and Return to Forbidden Planet.
How to Succeed features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, who also composed Guys and Dolls and is directed by HRT's Producing Artistic Director, Robert Chapel, who just happens to be appearing in the play as well, making his HRT debut as an actor. The show follows the journey of J. Pierrepont Finch, a lowly window washer determined to finagle his way into a corner office in record time with the help of a little handbook.
Robert Morse created the role of Finch on Broadway in 1961 in a production that featured choreography by Bob Fosse. The show was successfully revived in the Big Apple in 1995, with Matthew Broderick playing the role. HRT's version features newcomer Andrew Frace as the conniving, yet disarmingly charming, Finch. According to Chapel, "Finch is the ultimate networker. His philosophy is ‘It's not what you know; it's who you know and what you know about them!'"
Chapel considers How to Succeed one of the most clever librettos ever written. "It's fast-paced and quick-witted,” he claims, “with enough plot twists and hurdles to keep the audience spellbound.”
Lindsay Northen, who recently appeared with HRT in Gypsy and Grease, plays Rosemary, a secretary who yearns to marry a successful businessman. The upwardly mobile Finch catches her eye. Local celebrity Dave Cupp is featured as the voice of the How to Succeed handbook, continuing a tradition of trusted newsmen in the role that was played by Walter Cronkite in the Broadway revival.
The cast also features long-time HRT favorite Jim Hillgartner, who has appeared in The Fantasticks and The Sunshine Boys, as well as a host of other talented actors, singers, and dancers from across the U.S.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying opens Thursday, June 19, with performances continuing through June 28. Culbreth Theater, 109 Culbreth Road. 8pm. $14-25. 924-3376.