How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
My Rating: 5 stars
The face that was once behind the circular glasses and brandishing a wand at the evils of the Wizarding World is now up on a Broadway stage wearing a suit and an electric-blue bowtie. Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, known as the “Boy Who Lived”, on the big screen adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling novels for just about a decade, has now taken up a new trade: singing and dancing.
Radcliffe plays the main role in the 2011 revival of the musical comedy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. How to Succeed has been around for a long time. It was originally created by playwrights Willie Gilbert and Jack Weinstock based on Shepard Mead’s original book in 1952. The musical went years without being produced, until it finally reached the stage for its first production on Broadway in 1961.
Since then, there have been many different versions and revivals of this musical. In 1963, the West End production opened in March of that year, playing five hundred and twenty performances. The West End is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London’s ‘Theatreland’. Along with Broadway, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest end of commercial in the English speaking world.
A long time after the West End productions, there was a Broadway revival which spanned from 1995 to 1996. After the first revival, the national tour of How to Succeed began in Baltimore in May of 1996 and ended in Milwaukee in June of 1997. And finally, the second and most recent revival of the musical, with Daniel Radcliffe as the main role, opened on March 27th, 2011. The production is currently nominated for 11 Tony Awards.
On May 21st, I got the pleasure to travel to New York City for the day and see How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Seeing that musical was probably one of the best experiences ever, not only did I get to see Daniel Radcliffe, who I’ve admired since I was about eight, the whole production was fantastic.
As soon as the lights go out in the theatre, a rope chair drops down from way up above the stage and drops down into the orchestra area. After a few minutes of the orchestra playing, the rope rises slowly, and Daniel Radcliffe appears, holding the “How to Succeed” book. The book itself is one of the main influences on the plot. The main character, J. Pierrepont Finch, uses the book to move up on the business ladder from window washer to Chairman of the Board of the World Wide Wicket Company. While at work, Finch meets Rosemary, his love interest later in the play. Rosemary tries multiple times to get Finch to agree to a date with her, though he is completely oblivious and focused on succeeding.
Throughout the whole play, Radcliffe and the cast have moments of singing and dancing. At first, I was really surprised Radcliffe could sing. His voice is fantastic! The whole cast sounded so great together and the dance numbers were choreographed amazingly.
Not only was this a chance for me to see my first play on Broadway, but I got to see Daniel Radcliffe. Seeing Radcliffe in this musical meant a lot of different things for me. Seeing Radcliffe involved in something new and different basically symbolized the end of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Harry Potter was my childhood, so it was kind of like finally realizing that my childhood was ending and I had to grow up. Although I am sad that Radcliffe is done with Harry Potter, I am so happy for him. He is so successful and talented.
Overall, I think this musical was incredible. All the great reviews it is getting are absolutely correct. Daniel Radcliffe and the whole cast are amazing. If I had the opportunity to see it again, I would. I could have sat in that theatre all day! So, if you’re in the mood for a good laugh and catchy music, take a drive up to New York and see How to Succeed at the Al Hirschfield Theatre.