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A View from the Cliff: “How to Succeed…” in Rockaway

There’s trouble at World Wide Wickets! A young upstart is climbing the corporate ladder with alarming speed. His secret? A little known handbook that morphs into the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning musical comedy: “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.”

At Friday evening’s performance, director John Gilleece and producer Susan Jasper skillfully utilize “everyman” John Panepinto as anti-hero J. Pierrepont Finch. His great voice and mischievous smile make him the perfect survivor in this comical chronicle of 1960s big business. Equally well cast is Katherine Robinson as very cute, often starry eyed and somewhat conniving Rosemary. She is excellent as she sings and dances her way into Finch’s heart.

The skillful satire continues as WWW president J.B.Biggley (Cliff Hesse) shows his multi edged-agenda. He’s part hatchet-man, part knitter but mostly skirt chaser. His favorite skirt is worn by curvaceous Hedy LaRue (Nicole Mangano). Both Hesse and Mangano earn high marks for their outstanding vocal and physical characterizations.

Meanwhile, office weasel, snitch and boss’ nephew Bud Frump (David Risley) is rejected by office sharks and apple polishers alike until he hatches a plan to topple J.P. Finch. Risley, a familiar face at RTC, is perfect as the sniveling schemer who is ultimately caught in his own trap. It’s back to basics for you, Frump!

The secretarial pool, along with personal secretaries Miss Jones (Susan Warren Corning) and Smitty (Najat Arkadan/Dana DiAngelo) are perfect pawns on the hilarious corporate chessboard. They are challenged by the company’s executive “yes men.” In the end, though, it’s love, laughs and wickets that win the day!

The troupe’s nine piece orchestra, conducted with consistency and skill by Richard Louis-Pierre supports the performers in their biggest number, “Brotherhood of Man” and “I Believe in You.” The well choreographed scenes (by Nicola Nellen) and the overall savvy of the production also earn nods for stage manager Nora Meyers and Assistant Directors Leslie Ross and Alan Rosenfeld. In fact, the very large cast and crew, too numerous to praise by name, continue the high quality that we have come to expect from this fine theatrical group.

The Rockaway Theatre Company continues their year of the musical with four more big productions through November. Call (718) 374-6400 or surf to

As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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