2014-03-21 / Community

RTC Really Shows “How To Succeed”


The Secretaries take center stage. Photos courtesy of RTC. The Secretaries take center stage. Photos courtesy of RTC. Last Friday evening, March 14th, marked the very successful opening of the RTC’s current blockbuster musical production, “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.”

The ‘book’ for this show was written by Abe Burrows and features the music and lyrics of the great Frank Loesser. The RTC’s production is directed by John Gilleece with musical direction by Richard Louis- Pierre and choreography by Nicola DePierro Nellen.

The show stars very talented RTC veteran performers John Panepinto as young J. Pierpont Finch, the rising business tycoon and Cliff Hesse as “Old Moneybags,” J. B. Biggley, president of the company.

This production has been fraught with problems from the start and there were times when it looked like the show would never get up and running. Three weeks before the originally scheduled opening in November, the government shut-down of 2013 occurred. This affected National Parks and monuments and the RTC was locked out of its home base at Fort Tilden, making it impossible to rehearse or to finish set-building and other necessary preparations.


Cliff Hesse as J.B. Biggley in the Rockaway Theatre Company’s “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.” Cliff Hesse as J.B. Biggley in the Rockaway Theatre Company’s “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.” As other productions were already scheduled into February, 2014, “How to Succeed in Business” had to be moved to March. This required finding new cast members, crew and musicians to replace those who were unavailable on the rescheduled dates. To further complicate things, when the company was finally able to re-enter the theater building, the horrible winter, the fierce wind and cold temperatures and the many snow storms forced the company to cancel several vital rehearsals and made it impossible to build or store set pieces outside the building.


Finch (John Panepinto) and Twimble (Roger Gonzalez) in the mailroom. Finch (John Panepinto) and Twimble (Roger Gonzalez) in the mailroom. Despite the many complications, the RTC has put together a terrific production, doing things “The Company Way.” Director John Gilleece was able to assemble an amazing cast of performers. Regular RTC audiences will recognize many familiar faces on the stage but will be very pleased to see that some extremely talented new performers have joined the RTC family and will hopefully be seen in future productions. The show features great tunes like “I Believe in You” and “Brotherhood of Man,” as well as some great dance numbers provided by veteran RTC choreographer Nicola DePierro Nellen.

Sets and costumes alone are well worth the price of admission to this show. The beautiful period costumes are the handiwork of the multitalented Susan Warren Corning. The great office set captures the true atmosphere of the early ‘60s in NYC and was built by the phenomenal RTC construction team under the supervision of incredible artisan, Tony Homsey, and designed by Cliff Hesse and Danielle Rose Fisher.


John Panepinto as J. Pierpont Finch. John Panepinto as J. Pierpont Finch. After the first three performances, the buzz on this show has been off the charts and reservations have been flying in. There are still two more weekends of performances. This weekend there will be shows on Friday, March 21st and Saturday, March 22nd, at 8 p.m. There will be a matinee on Sunday, March 23rd at 3 p.m. There will also be four performances Thursday, March 27 to Sunday, March 30th, which is the final weekend of the run. Call RTC hotline at 718-374- 6400 or visit www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org now and reserve your seats before they are all gone and you do not succeed in getting to see this show!

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