The talented Ben Nordstrom and the very funny Whit Reichert lead a good cast through an enjoyable production of “How To Succeed In Business” from 1961. The original show was the last stage appearance of legendary crooner Rudy Vallee. It won a Tony Award as best musical, and a year later in 1962 was given the coveted Pulitzer Prize. It has been revived on Broadway twice, in 1996 and 2012.
Nordstrom plays J. Pierrepont Finch, a lowly winder washer who uses a pamphlet on how to get ahead in the business world as his guide for climbing the corporate ladder from the outside, literally. His love interest is a secretary, played by Betsy Dilellio.
Whit Reichert is a scream as J. B. Biggley, President of World Wide Wickets, the company Finch invades. Biggley has a secret girl on the side, Hedy Larue, who he gives a position to in more ways than one. Larue is played by Heather Ayres. The way Stages dressed Ayres and directs her for the part she looks more frumpy than sexy.
“How To Succeed” at Stages has great color in production values. Supporting cast includes nice characterizations of the boss’s nephew, played by Joseph Medeiros and Steve Isom the beleaguered Personnel Manager. The show’s most memorable numbers are “The Company Way,” “I Believe in You” and “Brotherhood of Man.”
As usual, Stages does an admirable job of maximizing their theater size and stage. “Succeed” is nostalgic and high-spirted. The first act has always been too long, but leave it to Ben and Whit to make the time fly in a very agreeable fashion.