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Theatre review - Broadway edition: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 
23rd-Jul-2011 07:20 pm
MASSIVEBALLS!avatar
Admit it, you didn't think I could make it this long, even on holiday, without going to the theatre. OK, if I hadn't been unlucky in the Book of Mormon lottery you would have been reading this last Thursday. But as triomakesmehot is in New York for a couple of the same days as me it should perhaps be no surprise that my first Broadway show was Rob Ashford's 50th anniversary revival of Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert's How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which sees Daniel Radcliffe making his musical comedy debut.

The story of a window-cleaner, Finch (Radcliffe) who through luck and cunning ends up getting repeatedly promoted until he's an executive, it's in some ways an odd choice. The show hasn't aged too well and lacks memorable tunes (only the finale "Brotherhood of Man" is a real foot-tapper.) In other ways it's a canny choice of vehicle as Radcliffe can carry a tune, which is all that's required of him here - there's no big belters and he coasts on charm and stage presence. It's also a show that doesn't entirely rest on his tiny shoulders - it's a surprisingly small lead role, he's only on stage about half the show. John Larroquette heads the supporting cast as the philandering boss, and leading ladies Rose Hemingway, Tammy Blanchard, Mary Faber and Ellen Harvey do well with female roles that date the show more than anything else: It's inherently chauvinistic, and however appealing Radcliffe and Larroquette may be, their characters are anything but. I didn't mind so much Hemingway's Rosemary falling for Finch at first sight, but her continuing to love him when he treats her like furniture throughout is a bit hard to get behind.

Designers Derek McLane (sets) and Catherine Zuber (costumes) help gloss over some of this with cartoonish colours and 60s designs I really liked, setting this up very much as a cheesy period piece which helps keep things light. While Equus might have reinvented DanRad as a sex symbol, his look here is a bit too Pee Wee Herman to do much for me; fortunately the ensemble includes Charlie Williams as Mr Jenkins, providing some major eye candy and athletic dancing. Ashford and his creatives have managed to make this a lot of fun but you can't quite ignore it's cheerfully misogynistic tone and without star names this show surely wouldn't have been too appealing as a revival.

How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying by Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert is booking until the 24th of December at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, New York.
Comments 
27th-Jul-2011 12:46 am (UTC)
First off, it was wonderful to finally be able to spend some time with you! I hope the rest of your trip goes well, and that you get back home safely.

As to the show, knowing how particular you are about theatre, I cannot believe you spelled Dan's character's name wrong. It's "Finch: F-I-N-C-H". (Can you picture me laughing hysterically here?)

Ok, now that I can breathe again, I completely agree with you about Charlie Williams. The man is absolutely gorgeous! There were even a couple times that I looked at him while Dan was on stage, so that is a huge compliment to him. (And you know I'm so far gone where Dan is concerned that even in this less-than-flattering stage look, I think he is adorkable).

I would pose the question to your opinion on Rose's blindly following her man regardless of how he treated her ... did she actually love him, or was she basically doing what he was and trying to find a shortcut to the mansion?
29th-Jul-2011 11:19 am (UTC)
First off, it was wonderful to finally be able to spend some time with you! I hope the rest of your trip goes well, and that you get back home safely.

You too, and yes the trip home was fine - even the airline food was good which has to be a first!

As to the show, knowing how particular you are about theatre, I cannot believe you spelled Dan's character's name wrong. It's "Finch: F-I-N-C-H". (Can you picture me laughing hysterically here?)

That'll be my handwriting! Because I didn't have long at the computers I scribbled my reviews out first then typed them up quickly when I got to the PC.

Ok, now that I can breathe again, I completely agree with you about Charlie Williams. The man is absolutely gorgeous!

Once LJ starts behaving itself again and I catch up with all the reviews it hasn't let me post, I'll do that post I promised with a few modelling photos of him I found.

I would pose the question to your opinion on Rose's blindly following her man regardless of how he treated her ... did she actually love him, or was she basically doing what he was and trying to find a shortcut to the mansion?

I think a different way to go about reviving the show would be a bit darker and that would definitely fit in there. But the way Ashford's gone about it is definitely the period piece, so I think it really just comes over as the female characters not being particularly developed.
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