I’m talking about How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the Broadway revival of the 1961 show about an ambitious young man tirelessly climbing the corporate ladder. (And, no, he doesn’t do it naked on top of a horse.)
With Mad Men in the air, this is the third period musical of recent years about the dark but often goofy side of office politics (after Nine to Five and Promises, Promises).
And this one has splashy sets, jangly dancing, and a great closing number (“Brotherhood of Man”).
Thankfully, it doesn’t try to whitewash the era’s view of women, who are generally secretaries who dream of marrying their bosses and keeping hubby’s dinner — along with other things — warm till he gets home.
And Radcliffe? He’s OK. Sweet singing voice, great dancing moves in that last number.
It’s just that Robert Morse‘s performance is saved for all time in the movie, in which he was impish, hilarious, magnetic, devious, and cute.
And Matthew Broderick was winningly slippery in the 1995 revival, which is still fresh in my own anything-to-get-ahead theater-queen mind.
Radcliffe’s Finch is mainly earnest. He doesn’t come off as someone trying to act earnest to get ahead but as someone who’s just plain earnest. It’s weird. But Radcliffe’s perfectly game and is to commended for continually trying to break out of his ascribed teen idol role.
Alas, the big number “I Believe In You” falters without any sense of unrequited self love to propel it. Ironically, Radcliffe looks terrified! (Update: Maybe it’s not ironic. A commenter below says Radcliffe is purposely interpreting the song as an attempt to dispel his fears. Well, unlike Finch himself, it doesn’t work.)
But he does nicely on the song “Rosemary” and scores every time he turns to the audience with a grin whenever he’s gotten another promotion.
Oh, and he co-stars with Anderson Cooper. Well, his disembodied voice. Anderson is the narrator, the voice of the success manual Radcliffe reads throughout the show. If there were a Tony award for voice, he’d definitely succeed!