WAAPA’s How to Succeed a success!

The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) continues the success of its mid year musical, as the third year music theatre students present the Tony Award winning, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

WAAPA How to succeed
Image by Jon Green

From the moment you enter the theatre you are transported back in time as old television show themes are played. And once the curtain goes up this talented group of third students and their team from the music, design and production departments transport the audience back to the sixties.

Directed by Jason Langley, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, tells the tale of J Pierrepont Finch (spelt F I N C H),  a lowly window washer, as he climbs his way up the corporate ladder with the help of a corporate self help book and a bit of luck.

Caleb Vines as J. Pierrepont Finch gives a flawless performance in a role that demands a vast amount of talent. His presence on stage is commanding and in one scene as he sings “I believe in you” as a pep talk to himself, you can almost see the sparkle of his teeth, like you see in 1960s commercials for toothpaste. Georgina Walker as Finch’s love interest, Rosemary Pilkington, convinces the audience of her innocence as she tries to trap her man and become the other secretaries Cinderella.

Rob Mallett as J.B Biggley gives a powerful performance as both actor and singer and provides some of the comical relief along with his mistress Hedy LaRue, played by Karla Tonkich.

It is extremely difficult to single out ensemble performances, as this cast work together to give a slick and professional performance. They also manage to do what cannot be done by so many professional casts – retain their accents throughout the entire show.

Image by Jon Green

The set designed by Steve Nolan comes complete with two elevators that have the audience believing they actually ferry office workers up and down a building.   And the men’s washroom, complete with a glass walled urinal, needs to be seen to be believed.

The Choreography by Jenny Lynnd is tight and slick.  Highlights include office workers twitching for coffee in ‘Coffee Break’ and clever use of flying mail room letters and packages in ‘The Company Way’. Bud Frump, played by Ainsley Melham, sings and dances his way on the top of moving mail karts, without a hint of panic on his face.

Costumes, designed by Elizabeth Wratten, are true to the era. Blue suits, a wedding dress that appears to be made out of office paper, tweed jackets and the not so Paris original are highlights.

The orchestra, under the Baton of David King, hit all the right notes as the audience wait for the final cadence to once again show their appreciation with continued applause.

The show ends with the rousing ‘Brotherhood of Man’ as Miss Jones, played by Jessica White, belts it out with power and jazz feel, along with the cast.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a huge success, performed by a group of talented students who, at times, make you believe you are watching seasoned professionals.



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