Spring musical “succeeds” in critic’s eyes

The cast of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
The cast of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, performs the number “Brotherhood of Man.” (Photo courtesy of Elijah Oliver)

By Ryann Heinlen

When the spring musical for this year was announced, discussion focused on how it would turn out and how it would compare to Broadway and movie adaptations.

As the audience walked through the double doors into the lobby, they were greeted by colorful hints of what was to come. This included a small table supporting a lone Keurig coffee machine with a sign above it which read “Coffee Break!” They were handed light purple playbills and with a smile from the ushers, they were off, sent into the dimly lit auditorium to await the beginning of the performance.

The musical opened with a young, wide-eyed, and cunning man new to the business community played by Ryan Caviola, junior. His character, Finch, uses a guide to succeed in business without really trying, hence the title of the show. His character usually played as an oblivious, “nerdy” type, was played as a cunning and slick young man who quickly climbed up the social ladder by talking circles around his superiors. His love interest, Rosemary, played by Madison Rowles, freshman, was also portrayed with a more dramatic spin, including her immediate infatuation with Finch.

It was the vocals, not the character choices, however, that captured my initial attention. Throughout the show, characters had to hit difficult notes in iconic songs while perfecting demanding choreography. This is perfectly exemplified in “Coffee Break,” a song performed by a majority of the characters with solos from junior Kailee Clement’s character, Smitty, and Bryson LaBar, sophomore, who played Bud Frump. While rolling onto desks or being lifted into the air by fellow cast members, actors were tasked with the almost impossible feat: to sing, in character, with perfect pitch and tone.

The orchestra pit did a wonderful job of keeping things up to pace and providing great transition music as the technical theater students rolled pieces onto the set and the actors got into their positions for the next number. The musical director, Ryan Watson, smiled at his students as they played song after song. Watson’s ability to adapt the music to fit the almost seamless transitions in between scenes was impeccable.

The comedy in this performance was wonderfully executed throughout the show, but the pinnacle may have been in the cast’s production of “Paris Original” when all of the secretaries came out in the same “original” red dress from Paris. It should be brought to light that J.R. Biggley, played by Sam Fagel, junior, and Tori Thomas, senior, who played Hedy also shared some very amusing moments on stage.

The cast ended the show with a final version of the song “Company Way,” which had appeared earlier in the production. The performers did not disappoint in this ultimate “hurrah” moment with more stunning choreography and a happy ending for the characters that the audience had come to love over the course of two and a half hours. This highly anticipated production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying delivered in every aspect of the show and the audience was on their feet as the performers stepped on stage to take their bows, some for the last time as Coronado students.