clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

'60s parody has a modern feel

The play is bright and amusing and so is the setting. Theater patrons are going to enjoy "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." And they are going to love Park City's newly remodeled Egyptian Theatre.

Last weekend's performance left many lingering images:You enter the lobby, curious about the renovations - and are greeted by a curious sort of mural. It is a surrealistic Egyptian desert. (Are little gray stones on flat sand symbolic of something? Eternity? The dearth of art in an affluent world?)

Once inside the theater, you will be glad to see the old wood floor has been preserved. The old seats are also lovely. There are interesting bird motifs on the sides of each aisle seat, shining gold against the dark wood. (Were they there before?) Your eyes are also drawn to the lighted panels on the theater walls - Egyptian, funky and functional, all at the same time.

The size of the theater - not too big, not too small - and the slant of the floor - you can actually see over someone in front of you - make you realize this has probably always been one of the best venues on the Wasatch Front. How sad that it took a renovation to get you to notice the Egyptian.

(And whatever you do, don't miss seeing the bathrooms. Simple and splendid.)

And then the play.

Director Richard Scott (equity actor and U. of U. instructor) assembled a veteran technical crew, as well as a group of veteran actors, for this production. Kevin Mathie, music director; Barbara Borrelli Sturgis, production stage manager; choreographers Sandy Flurry and Trish Ryland; Nicholas Cavallaro, lighting designer; Lance Wilson, sound designer; and costume designer Ernie Doose, who used to be wardrobe supervisor at Pioneer Memorial, put on a colorful production.

It's a period piece. "How To Succeed in Business" came out in 1961, when all managers were male and all secretaries female. The costumes - short skirts, headbands, a brilliant pink dress worn with white gloves - remind you of the date and keep the play from feeling dated.

In fact, the play feels modern. It's easy to see this as a spoof of the one-minute managers of a few years ago, even though it is actually a spoof of the "company men" of 40 years ago. Big business is with us still. And the advice of the mail-room clerk, who approached his career with "bold caution," is still ironic.

Daniel Larrinaga stars as J. Peirpont Finch, a man on the way up. Brenda Cowley is the secretary who has set her sights on him, who can't wait to marry and move to the suburbs and be ignored. These two can sing. They can also act.

The same can be said for all the cast. Some of the voices are more average than stellar, but the overall production is right on key.

There is plenty of opportunity for character actors in this play. Four of my favorites were Marilyn Alldredge as Miss Jones (so pinched, such a precise little dancer), Larry Webb as Bert Bratt the personnel guy, Gaynl Mcalister as Hedy La Rue (the oversexed secretary) and Kirt Bateman as the hateful, wimpy, amusing Bud Frump.

Fred Cook played J.B. Biggley, the big boss. Julie Armstrong was Smitty, the sidekick secretary. Michael Bosewell was the boldly cautious mailroom clerk, owner of a 25-year pin.Then there was a chorus line of junior managers and their secretaries, led by Layna Carter and Tony Larimer.

It all came together nicely last weekend at the new old Egyptian.