How does one succeed in business without really trying? Beats the heck out of me! But it seems the cast over at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre have the little black book on the business. Show business that is. With the familiar toe tappers of Frank Loesser, the keen eye of Rob Ashford, and the sharp deliveries of Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a knock out, show stopper of a revival.
Picture this now folks, atop the World Wide Wicket Company hangs a lone window washer by the name of J. Pierrepont Finch; played by Daniel Radcliffe, a name that means zilch, that is until he starts to climb the cooperate ladder in leaps and bounds, causing ladies’ heads to turn and men to shake their fists. How does this young whipper snapper do it? Why by reading his handy dandy “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” guide, of course. This guide gives him all the know how, from schmoozing with the boss; J.B. Biggley, played by John Larroquette, to avoiding the company weasel, Bud Frump, played by Christopher J. Hanke. Now if only he can get the dream job as well as the dream girl, Rosemary Pillkington, played by Rose Hemingway, then he’d be in business.
Director, Rob Ashford, has polished one gem of a musical. From cast to costumes, sets to sound, lights to laugh-out-loud timing; Ashford nails it right on the dime. He captures the fast paced business world of the 1960’s drone worker both in dialogue and in dance. Each number having very clean and defined dancing moments that ranged from wisps of Fosse in “How to Succeed,” to a full on tap in “Cinderella Darling,” and even little sarcastic jab at a dream ballet in the number, “Rosemary.” Although it can be contested that the dancing was a bit much, none can rival the brilliance of “Old Ivy,” and “Brotherhood of Man,” which had the audience in a frenzy of cheers.
Now for the question that is on all of the tweeny-boppers minds, can Daniel Radcliffe pull off a Broadway musical? The answer is: yes, he can. With a charisma that charmed the audience into a standing ovation, Radcliffe takes the character of Fink by the bowtie and does not let him slip out of his grasp for a second. Although thin at times; his voice carried a pleasant, warm tone thought the production, which worked well for the character of dear old Finchy. As for the dancing, boy does he have rhythm! With a discipline to rival any seasoned Broadway actor, Radcliffe takes to the steps like a natural. His rapport with the rest of the cast is generally seamless, however, his relationship with the character of Rosemary left this reviewer wanting more of that romantic connection.
And who can forget our leading lady. Rose Hemingway shines in her Broadway debut, approaching her character with such endearing sensitivity and sweet comedic grace, it isn’t hard to see how third time was the charm to finding the perfect Rosemary. Hemingway’s rendition of “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm,” is a cherry of a performance, which has this reviewer hoping to see more of her work on the big white way in more shows to come.
It would be a crime not to mention the brilliant comedic performances of the cartoonishly maniacal Christopher J. Hanke and the boisterous deliveries of the sexy sectary, Hedy La Rue, played by Tammy Blanchard. But the biggest crime of all would be not to state how delightful it was to see John Larroquette strut his stuff as J. B. Biggly.
This musical would not be complete without the imaginative designs of Derek McLane for sets, Howell Binkley for lighting, and Catherine Zuber for costumes. McLane and Binkley’s tag team work on the light up honeycomb backdrop, set the mood and location with a creative flare complementing Zuber’s classy cuts for Sixties business chic.