Friday, March 11, 2011

theatre review, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, Broadway March 10, 2011

Is there anyone on the planet that doesn't know who Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter are?  I wouldn't think so.  But I bet there are a lot of people who would never have put the words "Daniel Radcliffe" and "Broadway Musical" in the same sentence.   But, here they are.  For those out there wondering what the result of putting those things together is, I have a couple of adjectives: "Amazing", "Excellent" and "a Musical theatre natural".   How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a musical comedy that was first produced on Broadway in 1961, and ran for 3 1/2 years.  It had a fairly successful revival in 1995 with Matthew Broderick in the lead and this latest revival is in previews now and opens on March 27.   The show is a fairly simple story of young J. Pierrepont Finch and his rise up the corporate ladder - with all of the business politics and office romances that come along the way up that ladder. 

Radcliffe stars in this production with John Larroquette, who plays the owner of the company he works for.  The height difference between the two is almost 12 inches, and that difference is used to great effect in the show - most especially during one song that was pretty much a throw away in the Broderick revival - "Grand Old Ivy" - which is now one of the highlights of this production.  Radcliffe is a complete musical comedy natural, he has a fine, strong voice, excellent stage presence, perfect comedic timing and is fully used in the dance sequences he's a part of.  He also doesn't pull focus from his cast mates, allowing this to be a true "ensemble" type show.   The supporting cast is well matched with Radcliffe as well - and the fun they are all having on stage together is infectious.  Radcliffe has to be the front runner for winning the Best Actor in a Musical Tony.  Anderson Cooper's voice narrates the action, and Daniel plays off the commentary nicely - though I did think Cooper's contribution wasn't as effective as Walter Conkrite, who's voice was used for the Narrator of the Broderick revival.  Rob Ashford's direction and choreography are in the style that he provided with Promises, Promises last season- which was also set in 1960's corporate America.   He keeps the show moving at a quick speed, effectively using the multi-layer set by Derek McLane.   The costumes by Catherine Zuber paint the stage in hues of pink and grey.  

Back to Radcliffe: it's nice to see that he is able to play comedy so well, we all know he's good at drama, based on his film experience and his Broadway debut two years ago in Equus.  Also, Larroquette is making his Broadway debut with this show, hopefully this won't be the last time we see him on Broadway.  One last note, this revival is truer to the original production and, unlike the 1995 revival, uses orchestrations more in the style of the original and includes the song "Cinderella Darling" that was deemed to be too "un-pc" for the last revival.  

Get your tickets now as once this opens up I have to imagine it will get nothing but strong reviews and there will be long lines at the box office.

Amazon link for the Original Broadway cast cd - How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Deluxe Edition) (1961 Original Broadway Cast)

Radcliffe sings! -

Compilation video for the 2011 revival -
Youtube clip of Anderson recording his narration with Radcliffe in the studio -

"Brotherhood of Men" - from The Today Show -