It ain't no "Guys and Dolls" (what, after all, is?) but Frank Loesser's other musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" is arguably more relevant to our current time, when nepotism and behind-the-scenes machinations both subtle and not-so-subtle are sometimes the only lifeline to sustaining a job, much less a career.
The adventures of J. Pierrepont Finch up the company ladder, thanks to a book identically titled to the play, still ring true. The songs and song titles"Coffee Break," "The Company Way," and "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm"are fantastic. The satire still smarts. And let's not forget the dizzying, Pulitzer Prize-winning script by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. Except for a wonderful 1967 film adaptation that featured much of the original cast, the original Broadway 1961 production went into long hibernation during the 1970s, when more young people were protesting than seeking promotions, "How to Succeed ... " has enjoyed two revivals of late in 1995 and just last year, with Matthew Broderick starring in the former. Even the Shepherd Mead book upon which it's based has undergone a revamp, authored last year by Stanley Bing.
Due to its sometimes racy over- and undertones, this musical isn't a regular feature on the Utah stage. So if you've never met Finch, Rosemary Pilkington and Smitty, Bud Frump, J.B. Biggley and Hedy LaRue, now's your chance thanks to Utah Valley University's production, opening Thursday, March 29. Directed by artist-in-residence David Tinney with a cast of UVU's best student talent, it's a great way to introduce yourself to Loesser's other masterwork of musical theater.