Could it be that Daniel Radcliffe is a true superstar? While the eighth and final “Harry Potter” film is breaking box office records, he enjoys singing, dancing and charming New York City audiences in the Broadway revival of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”. The musical has been running at the Al Hirschfeld Theater since opening on March 27th 2011.
The original production of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”, based on Shepherd Mead’s book of the same title, opened in October 1961 and won seven Tony Awards. Directed and choreographed by Tony and Emmy Award winner Rob Ashford, whose previous credits include “Kiss Me, Kate”, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, and “Promises, Promises”, this production celebrates the 50th anniversary of the show and was nominated for eight 2011 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Choreography.
Set in the 1950s, the story begins with window washer J. Pierrepont Finch (Daniel Radcliffe with an American accent) suspended by ropes, rising up the facade of the Park Avenue office of the World-Wide Wicket Company, Inc., intensely reading the self help book “How To Succeed…”, narrated for this production by Anderson Cooper. Following his faith and the rules of the book, the ambitious Finch accidentally bumps into the president of the company J.B. Biggley (John Larroquette in his Broadway debut, winning the 2011 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical), cleverly lands a job and quickly climbs to the top.
The show, featuring captivating songs like “Coffee Break”, “The Company Way”, “Grand Old Ivy”, and “Brotherhood of Man” written by Frank Loesser and well developed, lovable characters created by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, beautifully and sometimes powerfully swings and jumps with Mr. Ashford’s intricate choreography. The eccentric talents of scenic designer Derek McLane, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and lighting designer Howell Binkley together create a pastel-bright realm of the 50s, like a gigantic sophisticated dollhouse on the stage.
For Mr. Radcliffe, “How To Succeed…” is his return to the stage after his Broadway debut in 2008 in the play “Equus”. He shows us his enormous transformation as a performer and artist since graduating from a mammoth, world-successful film franchise. Who thought Mr. Potter could sing and dance? However he is no longer “Mr. Potter”; he is Daniel Radcliffe, a versatile hard working artist. After Finch becomes Junior Executive, his book tells him, “Nothing can stop you now.” It’s is as if we are witnessing Mr. Radcliffe himself shine like a star who won’t be stopped by anything.
“How To Succeed…” is witty, comical and magical; you will roll with laughter. But why “How To Succeed…” now? We human beings have been obsessed with success and money after materialism conquered the entire planet and gave us illusions. However, after hitting the economic crisis in 2008, we begin to wonder what “success” really is. We are now standing in between materialism and a new concept that will soon begin. What would we learn when lucky Finch discovers a new idea beyond his success?
text by Taiyo Okamoto