TR Robertson …Patio Playhouse is Escondido’s only community theatre and currently celebrating their 51st year of producing quality theatrical productions throughout the year. Each summer, Patio Playhouse travels to Kit Carson Park’s amphitheater for two musical productions involving a number of local adult and student actors and actresses as well as a few performers from other parts of the county. The first musical for this summer is the Frank Loessner, “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying!”. This musical is taken from a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, based on Shepherd Meads 1952 book.
The musical opened on Broadway in 1961 at the 46th Street Theatre. It ran for 1,417 performances and won 7 Tony Awards and in 1962 won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Tony Awards included Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Producer and Best Conductor and Musical Direction. The musical was made into a film in 1967.
The Patio Playhouse production July 13, 14th & 15th ending this Saturday with performances at 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm at the Kit Carson Amphitheater in Kit Carson Park located at 3333 Bear Valley Pkwy in Escondido. TICKETS
Photos by Director Matthew FitzGerald
“How to Succeed….” is a bit dated if you look at the story strictly as it is written. The musical centers on the corporate world of the 1960’s and one young man’s attempt to rise in the company using every trick in the trade, especially those provided by his handy-dandy “How to Succeed” book. The world of business in the 60’s was male dominated, with most women working in non-leadership positions or left to believe staying at home and being the good little housekeeper was their chosen duty. If you look at the musical as a bit of a satire, having some fun over exaggerating the corporate world, then the musical becomes more eye opening on what the business world of the 60’s was like. Patio Playhouse production staff included Director and Set Designer Matthew FitzGerald, Emily Awkerman Music Director, Kathryn Baker Choreographer, and Kelli Harless Producer.
Kevin Phan, playing the rising corporate star J. Pierrepont Finch, returns to Patio Playhouse and shows great range as Finch manipulates those around him in his efforts to climb the corporate ladder. Playing his love interest is returning Patio Playhouse actress Lindsey O’Connor as Rosemary Pilkington. Rosemary, a company secretary, is infatuated the moment she sees Finch, only to find herself constantly helping him with little response from Finch. O’Connor has several opportunities to show off a beautiful soprano voice in numbers like “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm”, “Rosemary” sung with Phan, and the best known song for this musical “”I Believe in You”.
Other notable performances come from David Guthrie as J.B. Biggley, the president of the World Wide Wickett Company, Ryan Burtanog as his nephew Bud Fump, Katie Rideout as Rosemary’s girlfriend and company secretary Smitty, Audrey Eytchison as Hedy LaRue, the squeaky voiced love interest of J.B. Biggley and Amara Young as Miss Jones, Mr. Biggley’s secretary. One of the audience’s favorite numbers is “Grand Old Ivy”, as J.B. Biggley and Finch sing and dance about the mythical college of Old Ivy, with the Groundhogs mascot, and their upcoming game against the Chipmunks. Ryan Burtanog is so convincing as the conniving nephew Bud, most in the audience wanted to boo him when he walks on stage. Guthrie and Young are returning Patio Playhouse performers and Burtanog, Eytchison and Rideout are making their Patio Playhouse debut. Another song which makes fun of the sexism in the work place of the 60’s is “A Secretary is Not a Toy” sung by the male company men and the secretarial staff. “How to Succeed without Really Trying” touches on everything that can be considered offensive and wrong about the corporate world, even if you are laughing about what that topic might be. As Matt Sayre, Mr. Bratt in the musical, says, “mediocrity is not a sin”
An additional cast of 17 performers and an orchestra of 9 led by Nancy Casey filled out the remainder of the entertaining cast members. “How to Succeed….” is a fun romp through a mythical corporate world, filled with intrigue, backstabbing, romance, not to mention a fun look at the importance of coffee in the workplace and “the company man”.
The Patio Playhouse production ends this Saturday with performances at 8 pm at the Kit Carson Amphitheater in Kit Carson Park located at 3333 Bear Valley Pkwy in Escondido. The Amphitheatre offers bench style open seating with convenient restrooms and concession stand. At the beginning of the show red couch seats are auctioned off for a soft, front row experience. Tickets for the production are available for $25 for adults and can be purchased at 760-746-6669 or on the web site at www.patioplayhouse.com.
Patio Playhouse is Escondido’s only community theater, established in 1967. The Playhouse is located in downtown Escondido and puts on a full season of musicals, adult dramas and comedies and a fee-free youth theater that introduces live theatre to children. Patio Playhouse is an independent, all-volunteer 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. They are also partnering with the San Diego Theatre connection on the Readers in the Heights campaign supporting United Way of San Diego. This summer reading program helps children to maintain and increase literacy skills over the summer, reaching over 400 children in 4 locations. Attendees can contribute financially or bring books to the performance and help avoid “the summer slide”.