By Frank Loesser
Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert
WAAPA 2nd & 3rd Year Music Theatre students
Director Jason Langley
Choreographer Jenny Lynnd
Music Director David King
Set Design by Steve Nolan
Until June 23
|Karla Tonkich succeeds with the boys|
This is a whiz bang production with 36 all-singin’-all-dancin’ guys and goils backed by a 28-piece orchestra, a show you just won’t see in this town produced and performed with this flair and quality otherwise, and there are still tickets to be had. I wouldn’t wait too long to get yours.
Bad boy J. Pierrepont “Ponty” Finch (puckishly played by Caleb Vines) is a window washer who weasels his way up the corporate ladder at the World Wide Wicket Corporation from the mailroom to the chairman’s desk. He looks like an angel, but he’s a devil in disguise. Mind you, everyone at WWW – now there’s a prescient coincidence – have tails and horns of their own, even pretty Rosemary Pilkington (Georgina Walker, channelling the young Natalie Wood and Ann-Margret) at the front desk who spots Ponty first and fends off all comers ’til the final curtain.
The competition’s fierce: Rosemary’s bff Smitty (Kerrie Anne Greenland sparkles) may be a lovely, loyal girl, but Ponty is quite a catch, and boss man J.B. Biggley’s gatekeeper, Miss Jones (the arresting Jessica White), is more than grateful for her rising star’s self-serving flattery. And then there’s Hedy LaRue (a deliciously dipsy Karla Tonkich) the boss’s mistress, whose disastrous foray into respectable employment at her sugar daddy’s office drives all the boys wild. All except Ponty, who lusts after the boss’s job, not his floozy.
Biggley (brilliantly performed by Rob Mallett) is a sentimental bumbler, but he’s a killer as well, and his nephew, Bud Frump (the goofily hilarious Ainsley Melham), is as rapacious as Ponty, just not as smart. Around them swirl hoodlum chairmen, hyperactive vice-presidents and hyped-up advertising guys (James Traille, who plays Benjamin Burton Daniel Ovington – you figure out the acronym – is a dead ringer for Mad Men's Pete Campbell), darling typists and delectable secretaries.
It’s all powered by a book by Abe Burrows that sits somewhere between Damon Runyon and Jerry Seinfeld and is as clever and self-sufficient as any in a Broadway musical. The Frank Loesser score doesn’t have big hits but plenty of numbers will be humming around your head the next day. WAAPA's Jenny Lynnd has deftly tuned Bob Fosse’s original choreography to emphasise its humour and ensemble work rather than hoofing pyrotechnics.
Jason Langley gives his young cast a tight, sharp-edged direction, beautifully supported by Lynnd, musical directors David King and Derek Bond, and designers Steve Nolan and Elizabeth Wratten. Julia Moody’s voice coaching is superb, right down to the supposedly non-existent nuances of class distinction in the American accent.
These talented music theatre students should be grateful WAAPA gives them the production values and creative support to strut their very best stuff in this hugely entertaining show.
And so should all of us.
An edited version of this review appeared in The West Australian link here