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Wendy Reuer, Published July 19 2012

Review: Gooseberry makes good on ‘How to Succeed In Business’

MOORHEAD – Despite a faulty mic, Gooseberry Park Player Jacob Preisler belted out the opening number in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” with enough gusto and bravado to ensure the full audience hardly noticed.

The hiccup might have signaled more trouble to come but not for the robust cast and crew of “How to Succeed,” who carried on a nearly flawless production for the rest of the play.

The musical, written by Frank Loesser, is an adaptation of a book by Shepherd Mead. The Broadway adaptation, which stared teen sensation Nick Jonas, wrapped up in May.

The story revolves around Preisler’s character, J. Pierrepont Finch, a former window washer turned executive climbing the ladder of corporate success with the help of the book, “How to Succeed in Business,” and a love-struck secretary, Rosemary Pilkington, played by Natalie Shaw.

While both Preisler and Shaw gave pitch perfect performances Thursday night, villain J.B. Biggley played by Aaron Crume probably received the most laughs as he tried to derail Finch at every turn.

The musical is the last Gooseberry production directed and produced by theater veteran Jim Cermak. The 40-year Concordia College theater director has been a part of Gooseberry Players for more than 20 years. As Gooseberry celebrates their 30th Anniversary this summer, they are reluctantly saying goodbye to Cermak. The Players make sure to note this, reminding audience members of Cermak’s departure but also informing them of the Jim Cermak Theatre in Your Life Award, the first of which will be given in 2013.

Cermak’s touches are visible in this summer’s “How to Succeed” While the main characters were cast impeccably, the surrounding cast or “The Company” talents are played up in the group numbers through the choreography. During some of the larger numbers individual cast footwork can be seen as rough in spots, but the broad visual stimulation masks imperfections well.

Gooseberry Park Players casts children 11 to 18. While some jokes made by the main characters on the sly may border on racy, throughout the musical, Cermak uses the choreography of group numbers to highlight the younger, smaller actors nicely.

A silent auction is being held in the theater lobby until bidding ends during intermission of Sunday’s play. Proceeds from the auction help support the Gooseberry Park Players. Between the talent and final bow of Cermak, the play and auction is well worth putting money down.

If you go

What: Gooseberry Park Players present “How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”

When: 7 p.m. Today and Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre, Concordia College Moorhead

Info: Tickets (218) 299-3314

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530