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.