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"How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" Is Revived at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre
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"How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" Is Revived at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
(Show Website)

At the
Al Hirschfeld Theatre
302 West 45th Street

Music & Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, & Willie Gilbert
Directed and Choreographed by Rob Ashford

Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette

Also Starring:
Tammy Blanchard, Christopher J. Hanke, Rob Bartlett,
Mary Faber, Ellen Harvey, Michael Park

Introducing: Rose Hemingway
Featuring Anderson Cooper as Voice of the Narrator

And an Ensemble of Dancers/Singers/Actors

Music Director and Arrangements: David Chase
Scenic Design: Derek McLane
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Sound Design: Jon Weston
Orchestrations: Doug Besterman
Production Stage Manager: Michael J. Pasaro
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting
Associate Producers: Stage Ventures, 2010 Ltd. Partnership
Press: The Hartman Group
Marketing: Type A Mktg./Anne Rippey
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Assoc. Choreographer: Christopher Bailey
Assoc. Director: Stephen Sposito
Music Coordinator: Howard Joines
General Management: Alan Wasser-Allan Williams
Mark Shacket
Exec. Producer: Beth Williams

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 10, Matinee

Today’s matinee brought out one of the most charismatic, endearing revivals on Broadway, the 1961 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Each character is perfectly suited to the personality of the role, and Rob Ashford’s high energy choreography keeps the audience charged. Daniel Radcliffe, of “Harry Potter” fame, sings, dances, leaps, catapults, mimes, and charms, as if he’s been a tuneful hoofer for years. With a book by Burrows, Weinstock, and Gilbert, and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, this show about climbing one’s way up the slippery corporate ladder, by adhering to “how-to-succeed” advice, bursts through each scene with captivating wit and spirited musicality.

John Larroquette, as boss of the Worldwide Wicket Company, JB Biggley, is introduced on a platform stage on high, at his office desk, taking orders from his offstage, unwelcome wife, whose nephew, Bud Frump (Christopher J. Hanke), wants to be head of the mailroom. Biggley is all bluster, until Hedy La Rue (Tammy Blanchard) calls, and he bubbles like champagne, suddenly the party guy. Miss Jones (Ellen Harvey) is the urban sophisticate, dressed in tweedy suits, Biggley’s secretary-confidante-advisor, with wry refinement and a watch that keeps everyone on time.

Mr. Radcliffe’s character is J. Pierrepont Finch, aka “Ponty”, who’s the object of desire for Rosemary Pilkington (Rose Hemingway), another petite ingénue, the secretary who wants a corporate husband and a picket fence. She ties her fate to Finch’s, and, as he plays his rivals for fools, Rosemary hangs her coat in finer offices, as well. Mr. Twimble/Wally Womper are played by Rob Bartlett, and when he’s finding his mailroom successor, he couldn’t be campier. Rosemary’s pal is Smitty (Mary Faber), and it’s their conspiring tête-à-têtes that spark some winning scenes. Mr. Bratt (Michael Park) is the iconic personnel manager. Mr. Gatch (Nick Mayo) is another of Finch’s rivals, who’s tricked into flirting with the boss’ mistress.

Among the dynamic, delightful sequences, Act I brings a football dream-dance play, during Finch’s Saturday morning overtime in Biggley’s office, when Finch pretends to be a cheerleading alum of “Grand Old Ivy”, Biggley’s alma mater and his regressive fixation. Mr. Radcliffe and Mr. Laroquette bound about throwing the football with half a team, as Mr. Radcliffe jumps athletically over the couch. An Act II, Finch is led to come up with a winning ad promotion, as he competes with Frump, and a televised quiz show with raffle clues brings out Hedy La Rue in one of her finest scenes. Ms. Blanchard is an outsized humorist, one of the finest I’ve seen, with vaudevillian manner, accent, and gestures that are funny all the time. In fact, she’s a show stopper, among many. Among the musical numbers, besides “Grand Old Ivy”, that powerfully propelled this show, were Rosemary’s lament, “A Secretary Is Not a Toy”, Finch and Rosemary’s “Rosemary”, Biggley and Hedy’s “Love From a Heart of Gold”, Rosemary’s “I Believe In You”, and of course, the tune before the finale, “Brotherhood of Man”, with Finch, Miss Jones, Wally Womper (Board Chair), and Men, in Rockette-styled kicks.

Rob Ashford’s dual role as Director-Choreographer is a huge success, as this show never pauses, except when it should, for Anderson Cooper’s recorded narrative advice, as Finch consults his business bible. The momentary bells and lights, to signify “a-ha” moments of strategic illumination, is an example of Ashford’s attentive timing. Derek McLane’s corporate set is just uncluttered enough to focus the eye on the actors. It also zeros in on the intimacy of Biggley’s office, the mailroom, the Board room, a party, a TV quiz show set. Catherine Zuber’s costumes are superbly conceived, imaginative, and full of personality like the cast. Howell Binkley’s lighting and Jon Weston’s sound are bright and clear, and David Chase’s orchestrations pulse with scintillating momentum. But, it’s the cast that makes this show great, and, in fact, it’s how it succeeds. Kudos to all.

Daniel Radcliffe and Male Ensemble in
"How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying"
Courtesy of Ari Mintz

Rose Hemingway, Mary Faber, and Daniel Radcliffe in
"How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying"
Courtesy of Ari Mintz

John Larroquette and Tammy Blanchard in
"How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying"
Courtesy of Ari Mintz

Christopher J. Hanke, Michael Park,
and Male Ensemble in
"How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying"
Courtesy of Ari Mintz

Anderson Cooper and Daniel Radcliffe in
"How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying"
Courtesy of Ari Mintz

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at