Arts & Entertainment

Somerville High School Drama Club Needs 1960s Props to Ensure Production of “How to Succeed . . . ” Succeeds

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The SHS Drama Club needs hard-shell men's briefcases, tie clips, trench coats, snap brim hats, leather wristband watches, costume jewelry, pastel spring coats, pill box hats and dress gloves. Credits: Courtesy SHS Drama Club
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The SHS Drama Club also needs men's snap brim hats for the production. Credits: Courtesy SHS Drama Club
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SOMERVILLE, NJ – Wanted: tie clips; pill box hats; hard shell briefcases; men’s trench coats and snap brim hats; ladies’ pastel spring coats; leather wristband watches; costume jewelry; dress gloves in all colors.

Successful theater is as much about the audience as it is about the actors, a symbiotic relationship that requires the ticket holders to check their reality at the door while the performers, director and backstage support crew are challenged to mount a credible production that convinces the audience to embrace each moment as it unfolds on stage.

The likelihood of success goes beyond talented performers and an astute director – success increases with careful attention to detail and authenticity. That extends to the costumes and props appropriate to the time period of the play.

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Almost three months into rehearsals, the Somerville High School Drama Club and Thespian Troupe #659 will present “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” on Thursday March 2, Friday March 3, and Saturday March 4 at 7 p.m.in the SHS auditorium.

Tickets are $15 at the door.

Co-director Laura Manziano and the ensemble of 43 student actors are beginning to fine tune the production, and are reaching out for time-period correct props to ensure that much sought-after authenticity.

“Our costumer has been piecing together vintage pieces from the time period, she’s gone to multiple secondhand stores and she is crafting a lot of pieces by hand as well because she wants to be accurate to the time period,  Manziano said. “It is very important to make sure our men have skinny ties, button down shirts and tie clips and that our ladies have a full pattern of colors for the entire show.”

She emphasized it’s not just through the words and songs, but it’s the props and costumes that transport the audience.

“It’s the visuals, from head to toe, makeup, jewelry, hairstyles that help to make the difference,” she said.

“The wardrobe is 1960s, so think ‘Mad Men,’ Jackie O, Pastels and pill box hats,” said Janet Jacobson, who is in charge of wardrobe.

The drama club has rented some props, including furniture; some items have been borrowed and parents have pitched in as well, according to Manziano, an English teacher now in her eighth year at SHS.

"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," set in 1962, tells the story of a young window washer named J. Pierrepont Finch who aims to scheme and charm his way all the way to the top of the Worldwide Wicket Company.

On the way up the ladder, he negotiates jealous coworkers, bumbling bosses, and even an office romance. Revered for over 50 years, "How to Succeed…' was revived on Broadway in 1995 and 2007, starring Matthew Broderick and Daniel Radcliffe respectively.

It is one of few musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize.

“Our production team selected this musical because it is beloved, but also because it opens our eyes to a very different time in our country,” Manziano said. “ 'How to Succeed' has shown the female members of our cast how women were viewed in 1962, and more importantly, has made them celebrate all that women are able to achieve in 2017.”

Co-director with Manziano is Justin Cimino.

Other credits - Musical Direction, Karen Gorzynski; Choreography, Nicole Frangione; Orchestra Conducted by Matthew Krempasky; Set Design, Teresa Michalski; Set Construction, Jeff Carlson; Costume Design, Janet Jacobson; Lighting and Sound Design, Matthew Sheehan,

The cast and characters include:J. Pierrepont Finch: Liam Devlin; Rosemary Pilkington: Emily Antico; Smitty: Jessie DeSarno; JB Biggley: Griffin LeBlond; Hedy LaRue: Heather Kolatac; Bud Frump: Hayden Verbanas; Bratt: Tevin Ighalo; Miss Jones: Kati Murdock; Miss Krumholtz: Lindsey Kazar; Mr Twimble: Richard Sarles; Gatch: Brendan Marino; Ovington: Alex Updegrove; Womper: Kyle Biggs; Jenkins: Trevor McNaught; Tackaberry: Joe Schuler; Matthew Johnson: Colin Bauer; Peterson: Nick Couzzi;

Davis: Chris Ciempola; Toynbee: Matt Fiorentino; Scrubwomen: Sophie Belkin, Robyn Wasserman.

Ensemble: Samantha German, Megan Kelly, Meghan Crum, Farrell Owens, Emily Schworn, Melissa Andia, Shannon Dempsey, Julie Ettore, Megan Fitzgibbon, Alyssa Franchino, Samantha Giebas, Giana Giorello, Danielle Hadley, Erica Iovino, Kaleigh Jess, Marisa Kass, Ally LaMont, Josie McNeil, Caroline Pollock, Tyler Stasienko, Brianne Shust, Rachel Zylberman.

“The cast is like a family; they are wonderful, hardworking and have been onboard since December, plugging through the complexity of this show,” Manziano said. “There’s been great dialog back and forth, getting into the time period and what it means in today’s world.”

Those willing to donate or lend any of the needed items to the drama club can contact Manziano online at lmanziano@somervilleschools.org

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