V'ville Dionysians bring in business of laughs

— Photo by Michael Koff

J. Pierrepont Finch has a run-in with World Wide Wicket president J.B. Bigley, played by Stephen Barone. Finch makes an impression on Bigley, following his book’s instructions on rubbing elbows with the right people.

— Photo by Michael Koff

Grimacing in dismay over the sudden lack of coffee in the office, Miss Smith (Smitty), played by Alex Relyea, leads the other office workers in a song where the cast sways with fatigue and falls suddenly to the ground, ceasing to function without their caffeine.

— Photo by Michael Koff

Female lead Rosemany Pilkington, played by senior Samantha Longton, gazes adoringly at male lead J. Pierrepont Finch, played by junior Liam Brannan. Finch meets Pilkington on his rise to the top while following his guidebook How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

— Photo by Michael Koff

Shawn Goyer plays the role of Bud Frump, the nephew of World Wide Wicket president J.B. Biggley. Frump’s ploys for recognition and urgent (not to mention frequent) calls to his mother to ensure his rise in company ranks are brought to life by Goyer’s animated body language.

VOORHEESVILLE — Satire can be difficult to master effectively without being too offensive or too coy. The play, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, as performed by the Clayton A. Bouton High School Dionysians, walks this line with ease and confidence.
The play is based off the 1952 book of the same title by Shepherd Mead, and was first performed in 1961 on Broadway.

How to Succeed… pokes fun at the 1950s business world, a setting popular to current teens and adults from the television show Mad Men, set in the 1960s. However, where Mad Men shows the time period as scandalous and cut-throat, How to Succeed… shows it as somewhat ridiculous and insensitive.

The story centers on one young man’s goal of making it to the top of the corporate ladder, and he plans to do this by following the advice set forth in a book which gives the play its name.

J. Pierrepont Finch, played by junior Liam Brennan, starts as a window washer and quickly rises through the ranks of the World Wide Wicket Corporation, sometimes getting coworkers fired or revealing office scandals in the process.

Brennan describes Finch as “a very genuine person deep down,” despite manipulating people to get ahead.

On Finch’s climb, he meets many characters that will shape his rise to the top, including:

—Rosemary Pilkington, an adoring woman who quickly falls in love with Finch, played by senior Samantha Longton;

— Bud Frump, the nephew of Bigley, played by Shawn Goyer;

— Hedy LaRue, a flirtatious new secretary, played by Morgan Zell, and

— J. B. Bigley, president of the World Wide Wicket Corporation, played by Stephen Barone.

Barone says of his character, “It seems like he has all the power, but he’s really a moron.”

The play sees Finch following the advice of the book, voiced in the play by Matt MacArevey, and his eventual self-reflection on the morals of what he is doing, along with a confession to his superiors about his beginnings as a window washer.

Throughout the play, 1950s workplace tropes are put under the spotlight, such as objectifying secretaries, featured in the song “A Secretary is Not a Toy.” Spotted throughout the performance, Pilkington sings about being “ready to keep his dinner warm,” referring to the household duties of being an executive’s wife.

Drama club performers also display the tragedy of not having any coffee in “Coffee Break,” and celebrate the method of keeping a job as acting completely in the company’s interest in “The Company Way.”

How to Succeed… is humorous throughout, and the cast gives enthusiastic performances with unwavering voices and energetic acting.

Many of the drama club members have previous experience on stage. Female lead Longton has been performing all four years of her high school career.

“I adore everything about musical theater,” said Longton, who is interested in pursuing a career in broadcast communications.

Her experience helps keep her from getting nervous before performances. “I usually feel all right right up until I go on,” she said; that’s when the real excitement hits.

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will be performed in the Lydia Tobler Performing Arts Center at 432 New Salem Road (Route 85) in New Scotland on Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, at 7:15 p.m., and Sunday, March 30, at 2:15 p.m. Tickets are available at the door; $10 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors.

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