This is the Schneider-Farris Family's Blog. Keep up with what we are doing by logging into this site regularly! (The reason this site is called "Tragedy and Triumph" is that when I first founded this site, my husband, Dan, had been in a horrible accident, and he recovered. His recovery was a miracle! Go back to the 2005 archives to read our story.)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Review of Long Beach Playhouse's How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying)

You don't have to travel to New York City to see a Broadway musical since the very best singing, acting, and dancing take place right in Long Beach, California, USA!

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has been a favorite musical for my entire family.  I first saw a traveling Broadway version of "How to Succeed..." on stage in Los Angeles when I was in high school, but of course, I've listened to the music and seen the film version numerous times.  My daughter, Rebekah, sang the music all the time inside our house as she practiced songs to perform for auditions.  Anyway, it's a Schneider-Farris family favorite...

When I heard that the musical would go on while I was vacationing in Long Beach, I quickly bought matinee tickets for Sunday, July 10, 2016 for me and my dad.  I was delighted to find out that the Long Beach Playhouse is a rectangular and small theater, so there really is not a "bad seat in the house."  The computer selected the "best possible seats" for us in the 3rd row from the stage, but it didn't matter...we would have had great seats and been able to see the performers faces wherever we had sat in the Long Beach Playhouse theater.

The show was even better than I expected it would be.  Unlike the amateur productions that I'd seen at Linda Weise's Colorado Springs Conservatory and Mezzanine (where some performers were good but covered up the inexperienced performers), the Long Beach Playhouse production, although community theater, was FANTASTIC!   Every performer was so professional and accomplished.  I felt like I truly was attending a Broadway show.  The singing and acting and dancing was without error and just as good (or even better) than I remember in the movie!

There are some additional songs and scenes in the stage version that are not in the film, so the production is long.  The show began at 2:00 pm and we left the theater just a little before 5:00 pm.  There was an intermission.  I enjoyed the smaller theater, so there was plenty of parking available in the parking lot which could be entered from Pacific Coast Highway or Anaheim Street.

The show seemed to appeal to all ages, but it was obvious that many of the people in the audience were of retirement age.  This seemed appropriate since the performers' costumes were from the early 1960s.  It was fun to see old fashioned typewriters and rotary phones as part of of the stage's scenery!

It was obvious too that in the 1960s, secretaries were women and executives and vice-presidents in the corporate world were men.  I could tell also that working for a big company has not changed all that much since promotion from within and climbing the corporate ladder is common everywhere.

Women in the 1960s and 1950s were considered successful when they married a busy and successful business executive and that storyline might not make sense to today's young audiences, but for me, it was fun to "look back" at those times and I own mother telling me once that she considered herself successful since she married a doctor...

The highlight of the musical may be the song "I Believe in You" that was performed so beautifully by the hero of the story J. Pierpont Finch (Mitchell Nunn).  He is an extremely talented performer and I'm so glad I could see his facial expressions and movements from Row 3.

All the performers in this musical (including the chorus) were amazing.  It seemed that each role was chosen with such care that the actors seems to "be" the person they were playing.  My dad mentioned that "The Chairman of the Board" really looked and acted like what he thinks a chairman of the board would look like, and so does the company president J.B. Biggly. The secretaries really looked like secretaries and Bud Frump, Mr. Biggly's nephew, who is so determined to stop Finch, looks the part too. (The actor is disabled, but that didn't matter...he fit the part perfectly!)

Of course, when the song "I Play it the Company Way" came along, I knew every word by heart since my husbnad Dan and I made up a parody of the song years ago called "I Play it the Ice Capades Way!"  I sang along and smiled through most of the songs actually....

Anyway, my dad and I left the theater in a wonderful and happy mood and we can't wait to return to the Long Beach Playhouse again!  (Next year at this time, they are putting on another Schneider-Farris family favorite: "Guys and Dolls."  I can't wait!

To sum things up:

If you are anywhere near Long Beach, California, by all means take the time to see "How to See Business Without Really Trying" at the Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim Street in Long Beach.   The show opened on July 1, 2016 and will run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until August 6, 2016.

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Jo Ann Schneider Farris has participated in skating for most of her life as a competitor, coach, and author.