© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cappies: How to Succeed in putting on a musical

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 15, 2012 - When most individuals think of exerting tons of effort into any one project, they know it can be very daunting. However, Rockwood Summit High School’s production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" makes crafting together a high school musical look effortless.

The story centers around J. Pierrepont Finch (Nick Stough), an enterprising young man with a window-washing business, who endeavors to climb the ladder at a big company with the help of a little instruction manual, entitled "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." During his rise to the top, he attracts the attention of love-struck Rosemary (Gabrielle Wibbenmeyer), the all-powerful boss J.B. Biggley (Kyle Twomey), and the boss’s side-chick interest, Hedy Larue (Elyse Bertani).

With his charming smile and charisma, Stough plays the role of Finch very convincingly. Keeping the audience engaged, Stough maneuvers his way to the top of the company, never faltering. With a voice that is somewhat shaky, though, one wishes that Stough would simply stop holding back and deliver his notes, as the potential is present. Another performance of note is Gabrielle Wibbenmeyer’s. Her portrayal of Rosemary is flavorful; her powerful and commanding singing more than making up for relatively simple acting at some points. Any time at which she commands the stage, simply singing, she keeps the audience enthralled at her talent.

Two more standout roles that cannot be overlooked are the characters of J.B. Biggley and Hedy LaRue. Twomey’s portrayal of Biggley is outstanding, completely immersing himself in his character, alternately funny and pompous. His energy is refreshing in an ensemble that is somewhat lacking in both exuberance and audibility. Bertani’s sexpot character shines like a star, despite being a bit … dirty. Her voice and accent are both excellent, lighting up the stage whenever she appears.

Even though the ensemble is at sometimes unenthusiastic, certain dance numbers dispel that notion altogether. For example, "Coffee Break" is an absolute showstopper, waking up the cast with a fun blend of vocals and zombie-esque movement. Additionally, the song "Old Ivy" showcases some of the best talent in the show, delighting the audience with the sheer energy of Twomey and Stough celebrating an offbeat, lesser-known college.

Providing an excellent background to the action was the well-designed set. The mailroom was a much-used area, replete with stairs ascending to an executive suite. J.B. Biggley’s office also provides very interesting scenery, complimenting the action. The only problem is the lack of speed from the stage crew, often times causing scene changes to drag on for longer than necessary; however, the use of a semi-opaque drop creates an effective barrier between the action onstage and the crew.

On another note, the orchestra does a fine job, with an excellent strings section, especially. The crowning jewel of the technical aspects, however, is the costumes. Very effective and very in period, the entire cast appears to have teleported straight out of the '60s, showing the audience just how much work went into compiling outfits.

At the end of night, one thing is entirely clear to audience: if one wants to succeed, one needs a cast and crew like this.

Aaron Landgraf is a student at Pattonville High School.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.