Theater Review: "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" On Broadway
The musical itself is a bastion of 1960s culture, and this production, directed by Rob Ashford (who also directed the most recent revival of "Promises, Promises") embraces that wholeheartedly. The set, designed by Derek McLane, relies heavily on the visual concept of honeycombs, reminiscent of old-fashioned TV sets, an idea that is later reinforced when a similar television is brought onstage.
Unfortunately, though, the show itself is starting to show signs of age — the character of Rosemary is particularly out-of-touch with contemporary females, especially given that her theme is “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm.” Nonetheless, Rose Hemingway does a great job of giving Rosemary a modern sensibility without straying from the confines of Shepherd Mead’s 1952 book on which the musical is based. Luckily, some numbers, like “Coffee Break” and “Been a Long Day” are still relevant, though others seem incredibly dated (and not in a good way), like “A Secretary is Not a Toy,” which is cringingly patriarchal.
The supporting cast is also very strong. Particular standouts are Mary Faber, who, along with Hemingway and Radcliffe, gives the easily trite “Been a Long Day” a sense of freshness. Christopher J. Hanke and John Larroquette are also comical as Bud Frump and J.B. Biggley, respectively. The full-cast numbers are terrifically entertaining, especially the aforementioned “Coffee Break,” “Grand Old Ivy,” and “Brotherhood of Men.”
All in all, the current production of "How to Succeed" provides the audience with a thoroughly enjoyable night (or afternoon, in the case of a matinee!) at the theatre. The show is light, frothy fun, and this production stays true to that to a tee.
Reach reporter Katie Buenneke here.