How to Succeed in Business 1


By Iride Aparicio
Photos Credit: David Allen

LOS ALTOS, CA—The multi award wining FOOTHILL MUSIC THEATRE production of HOW TO SUCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, a satire of corporate life in the business world during the sixties, transmits the essence of the original show. The cast is professional, the songs well interpreted by the choruses and the individual singers, the dancing is synchronized and the acting so funny that it kept the audience laughing on opening night.

Directed by JAY MANLEY,  with musical direction by CATHERINE SNIDER and the artistic choreography of DOTTIE LESTER-WHITE, the musical with book by ABE BURROWS, JACK WEINSOCK and WILLIE GIRLBERT,  based on SHEPHERD MEAD’s book by the same name, and music and lyrics by FRANK LOESSER, looked as fresh on the stage of SMITHWICK THEATRE in Foothill College, as it did in 1961 when it was first presented at  the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway

How to Succeed in Business 2Staring in the principal roles are MICHAEL RHONE as J. Pierrepont Finch, JON MILLER (as the voice of the book that Finch reads) WALTER M. MAYES as J. B. Biggley, The CEO of the firm, CORRIE LENN BORRIS as Rosemary, a secretary in love with Finch. Smitty (KATIE O’BRYON, her friend,  DAVID MISER as Bud Frump, Mr.Biggley’s nephew, SARA GRINER as Hedy La Rue, Mr. Biggley’s girl friend and LINDA PICCONE as Miss Jones, Mr. Biggley's secretary.

HOW TO SUCCEED is the story of J. Pierrepont  Finch, "Ponty" (MILLER, see picture at left) a young window washer in New York City who  believing that he will succeed in the corporate world if he follows the advice of  “How to succeed in business without really trying,” the  book he is reading, starts following the book’s advice.

Encouraged by the words written on the book, he enters the World Wide Wicket Company, and asks for a job. He is rejected on the spot, but by “modifying” the truth a little to his own advantage, and using his charismatic charm,  he is not only hired by the company, but manages, in weeks, to be promoted from the mail room to Manager of  the Advertising department. Here, his problems begin.

For his office proposal to the Board, Finch needs to present a promotional  idea to advertise the company and he is tricked by Frump (MISER pictured bellow center) Biggley’s nephew, to present an idea that Mr. Biggley  not only hates but had  rejected many times before.  Yet by making Miss La Rue   (GRINER, below center dressed in orange greeting Bud) the star of his promotion in a TV show,  Mr. Biggley agrees.

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What happens next is a catastrophe for the company, but once more the charm of “Ponty,” as Finch is called by Rosemary (LENN-BORRIS), and her help saves the day.

Many people participate in this production and one can say that as director,  MANLEY managed to train each one of them as a professional actor or actress.

As Finch, RHONE was charming, witty and convincing in all his actions. It also helped him that he has the timing for comedy and a very expressive face that made us laugh, with a wink of his eyes. RHONE sings well (on opening night he gave the audience a marvelous rendition of I believe in you(singing it to himself in front of a mirror) and can dance. Physically, he is not too tall, slender, and has a mischievous expression that makes the role of “Finch” fit him like a glove.

As Rosemary (LENN BORRIS) portrayed her character   of weet, innocent and romantic girl in a believable way.  She has a marvelous timbre of voice and she know how to express emotion in her songs. Her interpretation of  “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warma song in which she reveals her intention to Marry Finch, and be happy, as his wife, to have his food warm when he comes home from work sounded like a song sang by a woman in love.

With a blond wig and talking with a high pitched voice, GRINER did a good impersonation of Hedy. Physically, her figure met the requirements for the role. On opening night, GRINER did not overplay her part or try to be funny, yet by using the right motions at the right times, she  managed to keep us laughing with her antics. 

To be convincing in his role as “snake-in-the-grass, Frump (MISTER) needed to play his part with more sneakiness that night.  His Frump was mean, but not sneaky enough and the actor did not manage to express his diabolical thoughts in his eyes. As Miss Jones, PICCONE was convincing. Biggley a little more nutty, with Hedy, in this production than in the original. Smitty (O’BRYON) was charming.

As a musical, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING is one of the most entertainment and funny shows Foothill has presented. The acting is good, the costumes creative, the music melodious, and the plot of the musical delightful. One more time, Foothill Music Theatre succeeds with this  production.

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Cast of “HOW TO” L-R first row: Linda Piccone, as Miss Jones, Walter M. Mayes, as J.B. Biggley,  Corrie Lenn Borris, as Rosemary, Michael Rhone, As J. Pierrepont Finch, Sarah Griner as Hedy La Rue, and Steve Completo as Wally Womper the Chairman of the Board.

For tickets go to or call 650 949-7360. (The show will be presented until August 12)