Friday, November 27 , 2015, 7:26 am | Partly Cloudy 43º

Santa Barbara High’s ‘How to Succeed in Business’ Runs Through Sunday

Santa Barbara High School Principal John Bechio is tossed around the stage by student actors in the number “Coffee Break,” part of the production How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying continuing through Sunday.
Santa Barbara High School Principal John Bechio is tossed around the stage by student actors in the number “Coffee Break,” part of the production How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying continuing through Sunday.  (Issac Hernandez photo)

By Claire Pendergast for Santa Barbara High School Theatre |

Santa Barbara High School Theatre is currently performing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The performance is directed by the ever-talented Otto Layman and follows his wildly successful and critically-acclaimed productions of Chicago, Spamalot and Cabaret.

The show is choreographed by his long-term collaborator, Christina McCarthy, UCSB professor of dance.

Aaron Linker shines as the show's lead, J. Pierrepont Finch, a young executive climbing the corporate ladder. Ciara Tolliver dazzles as Rosemary Pilkington and is reminiscent of a young Mary Tyler Moore of the Dick Van Dyke Show. She glides across the stage with incredible grace and poise, and sings like an angel. Her innocence and vulnerability will take your breath away.

The chemistry between Linker and Tolliver is palpable. Nick Blondell plays a company president with perfect bravado, both vocally and theatrically. Grant Bower, a recent Teen Star finalist and this year's winner of the Youth Spotlight Award at The Music Center in Los Angeles, plays Bud Frump. Bower, as always, impresses the audience with his vocal gymnastics and amazing stage presence.

Camille Umoff plays Hedy LaRue, the overly-attractive but not-so-efficient secretary. Umoff portrays this very sophisticated character with astounding charisma (she is only 13 years old). Her vocals are incredible. John Bechio, Santa Barbara High School's principal, is a special guest on "Coffee Break," where is he tossed around and abused by many of the student actors.

He is very believable as the abused, frightened coffee man. I'm sure the students of SBHS will enjoy seeing him man-handled on stage in this very entertaining number. Other incredibly talented young actors who grace the stage are Sable Layman (yes, Otto's very talented daughter) as Smitty, Rio Salazar as Miss Krumholtz and Mae Pendergast as Miss Jones. I am always amazed at the amount of young talent Santa Barbara has to offer. Keep an eye on these young actors.

Otto Layman and McCarthy have an eye for spotting talent and giving them the tools to create incredibly entertaining performances. This will not be the last we see of these engaging thespians.

Show times are 7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, May 9-10, with a special Mother's Day performance at 2 p.m. Sunday. All mothers are admitted for free on Sunday.

Ticket prices $10 for students and seniors, $15 for general admission and $25 for reserved seats. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 805.966.9101 x220. The Santa Barbara High School Theatre is located on the high school campus at 700 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara. Click here for more information.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has won seven Tony Awards and a Grammy Award, and is one of only eight musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The 1995 Broadway revival starred Mathew Broderick and Megan Mullally and the 2012 revival featured Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) in his Broadway musical review.

Don't miss this show. At this price, it's the best deal in town!

— Claire Pendergast is a volunteer for Santa Barbara High School Theatre.

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