Theater Info for the Washington DC region

The Arlington Players Sweet Smell of Success

By • Apr 23rd, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of The Arlington Players’ production of Sweet Smell of Success [MP3 4:27 2MB].

Sweet Smell of Success
The Arlington Players
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
$20/$15 Seniors and Students
Through May 3rd

Laura: This is the ShowBizRadio review of Sweet Smell of Success, performed by The Arlington Players in Arlington, Virginia. We saw the performance on Saturday April 19, 2008.

Mike: Sweet Smell of Success is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Craig Carnella, and book by John Guare. Based on the novella by Ernest Lehman and the MGM/United Artists motion picture with screenplay by Cliford Odets and Ernest Lehman. Sweet Smell of Success tells the story of a powerful newspaper columnist named J.J. Hunseker who uses his connections to ruin his sister’s relationship with a man he deems inappropriate. Sidney Falcone has been trying to get his clients mentioned in J.J’s column, but has not been able to do so. Sidney accidentally meets J.J’s younger sister, Susan. From there Sidney is able to work his way into the good graces of J .J. But for how long is anybody’s guess.

Laura: This was a pretty dark show. It took me awhile to figure out the plot. The dancing was ok. The dancers were mostly together most of the time. However, I really didn’t care about any of the characters.

Mike: I had read the description of the show on the Wikipedia and that helped. I still got confused at times with exactly what was going on. It did not seem that the music and the songs moved the plot forward any. I will say I did enjoy a lot of the large dance numbers. The choreographer was also the show’s director, John K. Monnett.

Laura: Not to give a lot of the story line away, but Blakeman Brophy played the role of J.J. Hunsecker. J.J. was a real schmuck. Blakeman Brophy gave him a cold facade. He was always scheming in the back of his mind. He did a lot of back door deals with people as high up as senators and even the president he had in his back pocket. He was a real cold fish.

Mike: I found it interesting that no one seemed to get close to J.J. I think that might have been just because J.J. would not let anyone get close. I was just wondering if that was the fear that they may turn on him, something that he’s done may get into someone else’s columns. That comes out later as we see how he tried to control his sister Susan (played by Erin Richardson). Erin Richardson seemed to give that role some strength. I’m not sure where that strength came from because at the beginning of the show she was very much not able to stand up to J.J. She got stronger and more conniving by the end. I’m wanted her to be good, but she was still able to twist people like J.J. I did not have a lot of sympathy for her.

Laura: One of the people J.J. was successful in manipulating was Sidney Falcone, later Sidney Falco. He was played by Steve Block. He tried hard, but again by the end of the show I really didn’t care one way or the other what happened to him. He did some really awful things and in the end got what he deserved.

Mike: I did enjoy the music in the show even though at time it was overpowering. The music director was John-Michael d’Haviland.

Laura: There were problems at Saturday night’s performance with the sound. Some of the actors would start talking and then their sound would be amplified.

Mike: The set was fairly creative. There were four large rectangular blocks that were on wheels and would be arranged on stage by the performers. There were hidden doors that allowed for different hidden objects to appear, such as a desk or a bed. I actually thought that flexible design was pretty ingenious. It was not as distracting as I thought it could have been, although I’ll admit there were a few times I was watching how they were rearranging the set rather than listening to the music.

Laura: The set designer was Michael deBlois.

Mike: Sweet Smell of Success was two hours and forty minutes with one intermission. It is playing through May 3 at the Thomas Jefferson Theater in Arlington, Virginia. Friday and Saturday nights at 8 and Sunday the 20th and 27th at 2:30.

Laura: Once you’ve seen the show we’d like to hear your thoughts on it. Feel free to leave a comment on our website We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so that you can stay informed with community theater events in the Northern Virginia area.

Mike: And now, on with the show.

Cast, crew, and orchestra list to follow shortly

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One Response »

  1. I saw Sweet Smell of Success on Sunday, and want to congratulate everyone involved in the production. I saw the overblown Broadway production during it’s short run, and I liked TAP’s production more. It’s a difficult show to put on, and TAP did a fine job.

    I loved the orchestra, and what I respected the most was that they did not drown anyone out, and that is so rare these days. Hats off to John-Michael d’Haviland, who conducted his extraordinary group of msuicians with flare!And a special kudos to that great oboe player in the pit! Your playing was gorgeous!