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Review: ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ at Lake City Playhouse

May 29, 2012

By Sandra Hosking

COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO—May 26, 2012—Lake City Playhouse closes its season with an amusing confection of a production of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. It doesn’t rise to the level of its presentations of Rent or Urinetown, but the show does feature bright moments.


The colorful pastel backdrop sets a fun tone, and the 1960s costumes by Jamie Russell are great. Ali Waid’s choreography is clever and entertaining, especially during the “Coffee Break” and “Brotherhood of Man” numbers.


Jett Bingman plays J. Pierrepont Finch, the window washer who rises to the executive level in a big corporation within the space of a few weeks. He is smiling and likeable. His voice is decent but sounds off pitch at times, which may be due to the music or the tinny sound system. But it is fun to watch how he manipulates his way to the top.


Emily Clevelend, who is always nice to listen to, returns to the LCP stage to play Finch’s love interest, Rosemary Pilkington. Rosemary’s friend, Smitty, played by Alyssa Maurer, has some of the funniest lines, but Maurer is stiff in her delivery.


As J.B. Biggley, the blowhard boss, Kent Kimball sings—and knits—well. He was last seen as Juan Perone in Evita. Biggley’s mistress Hedy LaRue, played by Brooke Wood, looks every bit the part in her heels and red beehive, but her characterization becomes a bit tiresome.


Several of the supporting characters steal their scenes. Alex Eddy is hilarious as the boss’s spoiled nephew Bud Frump. He whines and stomps around the stage like a child. Cary Pieroni’s reaction when his character is fired for being from the boss’s rival college draws big laughs (Go Chipmunks!).  And, Laticia Widman, the boss’s old secretary, moves about the stage like a nervous bird and steals the “Brotherhood of Man” number in the second act with her mannerisms and booty shaking.


Despite just being a voiceover, Max Mendez’s deep voice makes Finch’s book, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, its own character.


HOW TO SUCCEED is directed by Andy Renfrew and features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert. Music direction is by Carolyn Jess.


HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS runs through June 17 at Lake City Playhouse. (


Sandra Hosking, M.F.A., is a Spokane-area journalist and teacher. She is editor of InSight for Playwrights, national publication and Co-playwright-in-residence at Spokane Civic Theatre.




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