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Arts and Theater 1
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Black Tie International:
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
 


 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

 

 
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

By Ward Morehouse III

 

 

  
Forget the question mark!

The 50th anniversary production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" is not only a splendid hit revival with a
star-studded cast. It's also the most enjoyable Broadway show in years. Produced by Broadway Across America, which co-produced the recent well-received revival of "Promises, Promises," "How to ..."
stars Daniel Radcliffe, as J. Pierrepont Finch, the dashing young
Machiavellian man in a hurry. And does he ever shine!

Radcliffe, as most moviegoers know, has played Harry Potter ever since "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first Potter movie, 10 years ago. His final bow in the blockbuster series will be in "Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallow: Part 2," being released this summer. "How to ..." It opened at the Al Hirschfield Theatre March 27 and could well for a long, long time.

Yet Radcliffe needed a lot more than sorcey to work his magic in
"How To ..."After all, he's has had not just one, but two tough acts to follow. First, Robert Morse in the original 1961 cast and Matthew Broderick in the 1995 revival. And under Tony Award-winning director/choreography Rob Ashford, Radcliffe, who spent months perfecting the dance routines, fairly flies through the air with the seeming greatest of ease.

He, as were his predecessors, is just the right man to play the
back-stabbing, ego-driven Finch. You could really hate this kind of guy in real life. But Radcliffe plays him with such wagging, smiling
innocence that we're actually rooting for him as he circumnavigates the thorn-spiked corporate ladder -- his own version of the
"Company Way," one of the show's many hit songs.

"How to ..." with music and lyrics by the late Frank Loesser, is blessed by one of the finest scores in Broadway musical history. It may not soar to the lyrical emotional heights of a "Show Boat," a "Carousel" or more recent Sondheim. But every song blends perfectly into the satiric style of the book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and
Willie Gilbert.

This doesn't mean the score is wooden. Far from it. I particularly
liked some of the quieter numbers such as "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm", "I Believe in You." And by the time Finch starts singing
"Brotherhood of Man" the entire audience is on its feet figuratively if
not physically. For this is also a musical that starts slowly in an
almost low-key way with "Been a Long Day" and "Rosemary" and ends with one of the biggest bangs on Broadway in this or any day.

Rose Hemingway as Rosemary, who not so secretly pines for the
upward-clawing Finch, is as talented a singer as she is attractive;
Tammy Blanchard as sex pot Hedy LaRue, delivers laughs as flawlessly as her beauty. John Larroquette as J.B. Biggley, who may be best known as Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding on NBC's "Night Court," is both commanding and loveable. Christopher J. Hanke as Bud Frump, one of the executives Finch crawls over on his way to the top, has some of the same zany impishness of Charles Nelson Reilly, who originally played Frump -- on Reilly's way to becoming a household TC name. Rob Bartlett, in the duel role of Mr. Twimble/Wally Womper reminded me of a cross between Nathan Lane and the late Jackie Gleason. Like Gleason -- who I met when my father, the late Broadway columnist Ward Morehouse, took me backstage of a Broadway show to meet him -- is a mountain of a man.

Michael Park as Bert Bratt, is as winning a leading man
as he is dextrous a dancer. Helen Harvey, as Miss Jones, and Mary
Faber, as Smitty, are wonderful additions to the zany comedy. CNN star Anderson Cooper is heard but not seen as the narrator of the book that Finch studies in his breathless, charmingly dishonest hurry to the top.

By the way, I can see Anderson playing the role of Finch himself if he
ever wants to take a much earned break from front page news. Dancing might prove to be too daunting, however.

"How to Succeed ..." plays Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday at 8pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at  2pm and Sunday at 3pm at the Al Hirschfield Theatre, 302 W. 45th Street, just west of Eighth Ave.
 

 

Joyce Brooks

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