I saw the last revival of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1994 starring Matthew Broderick, and after last night’s performance, I have no idea how I sat through it when I was 8. My dad claims I sat through it because I just liked being in the theatre. Feminists be warned: Do not go see this show if you can’t take a (or a hundred) jokes about how women were objectified and treated in the workplace in the 60’s.
I quite liked almost everything about this production. It was aesthetically beautiful (the set looked quite expensive even though it was basically a giant moving Connect 4 board with pockets of light that changed colors), the costumes were appropriate for the time (and they’re adorable!), the lighting was precise and must’ve taken hours to tech, and the cast was great, almost perfect.
H2$ is about a young man, J. Pierrepont Finch, who is guided by a book (of the same name) and how he succeeds in rising up the corporate ladder at the company where he works. It wouldn’t be a musical though if he didn’t hit a few bumps in the road along the way.
The very first person we see is the performer who most of the audience is probably there to see, Daniel Radcliffe, and we watch as he’s hoisted above the stage on a seat on a rope (he starts off as a window washer) to a load of applause. Over the speaker system is none other than Anderson Cooper who is the “Voice of the Narrator” (don’t get too excited, you never see him onstage).
Radcliffe shows off his ability to be a triple threat during show stoppers like Grand Old Ivy, the Act 1 Finale, and Brotherhood of Man. He claims in a recent interview with Playbill that he isn’t a dancer, but you’d never know it when you’re watching him. He has a lovely voice which does the job for the material on hand.
By the look and sound of her, you’d never know Mary Faber had recently exited the cast of a punk rock opera and she is excellent as the comic-relieving secretary Smitty. I’ve read and heard a lot of negative things about Christopher J. Hanke’s performance as the boss’ obnoxious nephew Bud Frump, but I ate his performance up. He garnered a load of laughs and his voice is melodic (though I think he may have been having an off night because he sounded hoarse at times). John Larroquette and Tammy Blanchard, as JB Biggley and Hedy La Rue respectively, are both tremendously enjoyable in the roles and not to be overlooked. Tony nominations are probably in order for the both of them.
Despite that fact that H2$ is a tad long (clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes), it is a first class production even if you happen to not see Radcliffe and it’s a ridiculously fun night at the theatre.
H2$ is playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre at 302 West 45th Street. For more information click here.