Fringe Box



How to Succeed… – Stage Dragon

Published on: 23 Aug, 2012
Updated on: 23 Aug, 2012

By The Stage Dragon

Local boy, Alex Parker’s production How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying shows that he knows exactly how to succeed with musicals.

The show is a light-hearted, satirical comedy, set in 1965 which portrays typical business life within that era. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and contains jazzy dance numbers, quick humour and a lively orchestra.

This may well have been Alex Parker Productions’ first musical to rely so heavily on strong dance numbers and choreography – but let’s hope it’s not the last. From the beginning Aidan Treays’ stunning choreography is delivered with style and poise.

There are two pieces which particularly stand out for this aspect; Coffee Break, which uses the company as a whole and Brotherhood of Man, which trusts the male chorus to keep energy high not only physically but vocally too.

Towards the end of the number fluency is lost slightly, however this can be forgiven, it’s a lengthy song placed at the end of a long show and I have no doubt that throughout the week’s run – it will only get slicker. The choreography and dancers onstage are outstanding.

The company work well together and have clearly worked hard to make numbers as tight as possible. At times there are moments where the pace is dropped slightly during scene changes, some facial expressions get a bit too much and a few audience sightlines are lost – Miracle Chance playing Rosemary Pilkington, could do with cheating her angles slightly more to favour the audience.

Miracle’s singing voice however, is superb and she belts out her notes with ease. For an amateur company it was very impressive indeed and it comes as no surprise to find that most of the cast are currently in training. They certainly have bright futures ahead of them.

Individually, strong performances can be seen in Paul Prebble as Twimble/Womper, who defines both characters well and though small parts, gives excellent charm to both; Ben Lawson as J.B. Biggley, grows into himself through Act 1 particularly standing out during Grand Old Ivy adding hilarious comedic value.

Laura Sillett’s characterisation of Smitty shines through and Greg Bernstein as J. Pierrepont Finch who has a lovely voice and is a pleasure to watch develop from a mere window washer to working his way up the career ladder. Greg barely gets a moment off stage but his energy never falters and his character is constantly believable.

But there are two outstanding performers who, for me, steal the show. Chris Kiely as J.B. Biggley’s nephew, Bud Frump and Louise Olley as Hedy La Rue. They equally brighten the stage upon entrance and the portrayals of their respective characters are fantastic.

Louise’s accent, gait and general demeanour are spot on, allowing the audience to initially be slightly annoyed by her whiney tones but gradually grow to appreciate the adorable character La Rue really is. Similarly, Chris plays the grumpy Frump brilliantly, not once forgetting his personality, developing his frustration with Finch throughout. Both are vocally impressive and an absolute delight to watch and listen to.

Alex Parker Productions is still very much a young company but it’s one to watch for the future. How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying runs until Saturday 25th August at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. It’s definitely worth watching and – you never know – you might even learn a thing or two about business while you’re there!

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