New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
If you didn’t already know, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” won a Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Just ask director Mike Cavalier and he’ll tell you — at regular intervals. In fact, he mentions it so frequently, the cast is prepared for that, and many other quirks and quips that motivate.
For a while, though, Cavalier was unsure whether to present that show, which he toyed at staging for years.
Then along came Cody Martin.
That sealed the deal for Cavalier.
“We never had the right group of kids before for this show,” he said.
That changed this year.
For Martin, it was a new state and a new school. His family had just moved to the area from Virginia. Martin, who never before was in a musical, decided to audition for a part as an opportunity to meet a lot of people.
Forget about saying, “Break a leg.” Martin may be the lucky charm.
“I was astonished when he spoke,” junior Christian Na admitted. “I was enthralled that we had a solid primary male on board.”
Musicals are never done small at Neshannock. The director sees to that.
Those who have been in several musicals know his mantra — “Go big or go home.”
“I won’t do it any other way,” Cavalier asserted.
Major roles in the cast of 41 are filled by four seniors, including Antonio Blundo, who has a lead part as J. Pierrepont Finch; Martin as J.B. Biggley; Macy McBeth as Rosemary; and Jenna Richardson as Smitty.
Na is Bud Frump, and Carly Edman is Hedy LaRue.
The musical takes a tongue-in-cheek look at a business in the early 1960s, when secretaries are treated as toys and a window washer rises to the top as chairman of the board after reading a book, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
It’s hysterical, clever and sophisticated all rolled up in one.
It also is one of Cavalier’s favorite shows because the characters are so well defined.
The off-the-wall factors add extra punch. For instance, Martin’s character knits.
Unlike some musicals, it has a major plot, Cavalier pointed out.
“This would have teeth without music.”
And the last time Neshannock did the performance was in 1971.
“This is the best role I ever had,” Blundo, who has performed in four musicals, said. “I get to play a con man, and it reminds me of one of my favorite movies, ‘Catch-22’ with Leonardo DiCaprio.”
That statement instantly provided a joking response from Cavalier.
“For him, it’s him. This was a no-brainer.”
Blundo described his character as a person who lies and steals to get to the top.
“My character is a nerd and I’m kind of nerdy,” Na said. “Bud is fun to play.”
Richardson also finds the role of Smitty, Rosemary’s best friend, to be her favorite.
To Edmond, Neshannock’s director brings out the best in everyone.
“We wouldn’t do it for anyone else,” she said.
Cavalier coined another phrase that this group isn’t soon to forget — “This show is so stinking famous.”
That’s followed by a knee slap.
Sometimes, he says it in succession to groans from the cast.
Returning to that “do it right” anthem, some of the costumes, including the authentic costumes worn by Megan Mullally or Jessica Parker on Broadway and some men’s business attire, will be used in this show.
The songs include “I Believe in You,” “Brotherhood of Man,” “It’s Been a Long Day,” and a college fight song.
Then there’s “Coffee Break.”
It’s a huge song-and-dance number — all based on the fact that the office has run out of java and the workers have gone into agitated withdrawal.
“It’s fun because it’s wild, crazy and freaky,” Na explained.
From the mamba-flavored “Coffee Break” to the jazzy “A Secretary is Not a Toy,” there’s a full range of musical offerings, Cavalier pointed out.
“All the songs are odd,” McBeth observed while Cavalier said, “This is a vocally strong group.”
While the six students gathered in the front of the auditorium to talk about the musical, just behind them were portions of the set.
Cavalier pointed out that the sliding panels, which form the interior of the office building, are all in shades of 1962 Tupperware colors like mint green, yellow and purple.
When the cast is together, there are bound to be stories, followed by “I didn’t know that.”
A few were astonished to learn that Blundo will study dentistry at the University of Pittsburgh.
But they were practically rolling on the floor when he announced that he made that decision at an early age after watching Hermey, an elf who wants to be dentist, on “Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer.”
Cavalier topped that tale.
“It was 2001 and Antonio was 6. He came to the New Castle Playhouse where auditions for ‘Annie’ were going on, with all those little girls. He started singing ‘I Will Survive.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Blundo has been singing ever since.
Cavalier is convinced this production arrived at the right place at the right time.
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is not your typical show.
This is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
If you remember anything today, you’ll remember that.
Cast of characters
J. Pierrepont Finch – Antonio Blundo
J.B. Biggley – Cody Martin
Rosemary – Macy McBeth
Smitty – Jenna Richardson
Miss Jones – Kristen Minda
Hedy — Carly Edman
Miss Krumholtz — Brittany Moses
Gatch – Maxwell Watters
Toynbee – Andy Cipriano
Ovington – Logan Nawrocki
Womper – Steve Pinter
Jenkins – Grant Weaver
Tackaberry – David Tice
Peterson – Jake Senchak
Bratt – Steve Kennedy
Frump – Christian Na
Mr. Twimble – Steve Pinter
Members of the World Wide Wicket Family: Maria Acosta, Abigail Briggs, Gianna Cherry, Gino Cicconi, Andrew Cipriano, Christopher Clark, Kelly Cournan, Kenzie Covelli, Joe Dolin, Shelby Everetts, Troy Everetts, Imari Gates, Gabriella Giangiuli, Steve Kennedy, Evan Lucas, Meg McCarthy, Christian Na, Laura Na, Logan Nawrocki, Miranda Nichols, Alaina Oprean, Autumn Paolini, Steve Pinter, Arti Anna Ribarevski, Thomas Russo, Jacob Senchak, Madison Shaftic, Cole Smith, Bailee Smoot, David Tice, Alison Vitale, Jonah Vitale, Maxwell Watters, Grant Weaver