Monday, March 31, 2014

Cliff Kasden Reviews Rockaway Theatre's "How to Succeed....

photos and selfies by Lauren Susan (above right)

Well, I survived the cast party - sort of  - but I'm heading back to bed now. Maybe some video later. Thanks to Fred Smith and friend for coming down Sunday and David Bellel Saturday night. Lots to write about but too tired, especially after just coming home from striking the set -- 2 hours and it was all gone. Tomorrow we start building the set for the next show.

Interesting that the 2 big numbers in the show are pretty much all men. The gals were complaining about it and at the cast party they did an hysterical version of Brotherhood of Man while some of the guys did their tap routine to Cinderella Darling. Then we all did some zumba. I should have stayed away from that Irish cream liquor.

This review appeared in the Queens Courier and the Home Reporter. It was so much fun playing a today yes man, but I had the role nailed just from years of watching the sycophants at Tweed.

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

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:02 pm | Updated: 7:14 pm, Fri Mar 28, 2014. 
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 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.

Full review here.

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