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Thursday, 26 July 2012 18:42

A pleasing bit of business

Written by Connie Bollinger
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Belleville’s Brass Rail Players, the little theatre that fearlessly tackles big musicals, has scored a definite winner in their latest production, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

It’s the romantic story of J Pierrepont Finch, a dreamer whose aspirations are so big he dares to think he can go from window washer to corporate magnet just by following the advice in a how-to book. And, of course, he can and does in a series of coincidences and good natured plot impossibilites that are pure fun.

Nick Rivera has a strong mellow voice more than up to the demands of the Frank Loesser score. He’s tall and good looking with kind of nerdy charm that got my attention right away.  And he can move pretty well, too.

Finch’s lady love is Rosemary Pilkington, played by Meadow Nguy. Meadow is a slip of a girl, tiny and lithe but inside that little package is a strong, lovely voice already showing signs of exceptionalism. By the way, she’s only sixteen.

Ben Watts plays Bud Frump, the smarmy villain in the piece. The nephew-in-law of the boss, Bud expects he will rise to greatness by sheer genetics alone. When Finch continues to confound and outshine him, Bud’s outlandish and unsuccessful attempts at ruining Finch afford us the biggest laughs. Ben’s deliberate scenery-chewing is a joy to watch.

JB Biggley, the boss, is played by Steve Acheson. Mr. Biggley is a man who rules the office with an iron fist. Unfortunately his personal life is a lot less ordered. Steve was a joy to watch, relaxed and calm, the very picture of an experienced actor.

Laura Codispotti as Smitty stole the show when she sang. She has range and power and the girl can act. I had the feeling Laura wasn’t anywhere near full voice despite the powerhouse delivery.

Janice Codispoti is the vamp, Hedy LaRue. Hedy is a bad, bad girl and loves it. She has Mr. Biggley wrapped around her perfectly manicured finger but isn’t averse to flirting with any male who bleeps her radar. Janice did a great job, singing some difficult numbers with ease.

And now we come to the absolute best part, the zowie finale, The Brotherhood of Man, in which Gabi Maul has a wonderful featured solo atop the desk, Jacob Williams and John Schnable strut it out in a nicely choreographed piece and the whole cast joins to sing and dance with precision.

I’ve taken Brass Rail to task once or twice but this production makes me proud of their progress. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in my opinion is a total success.

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