Two weekends ago (October 16, 2011), I took my sister for a birthday jaunt to New York, the highlight of which was a matinée performance of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. When you are a huge Harry Potter fan looking to see a big Broadway show… well it just made sense to take my sister to see Daniel Radcliffe’s second Broadway outing.
I worked on a production of How to Succeed in college. Based on that experience I was a little concerned about having elevator and identical dress related traumatic flashbacks (you try making elevator doors that work on small pulleys operated by run crew and basically hand sewing twelve identical dresses with not budget and four weeks). I am just saying: it was a little stressful anticipating the Paris Original.
But that’s just me and my demons.
I expected it to be a fun show, I was interested to see Daniel Radcliffe in non-Harry-Potter mode, and A Secretary is not a Toy has been stuck in my head ever since I started watching Mad Men last spring.
Interestingly, according to the album’s digital booklet, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron refer to creating “a set and costume design concept that acknowledged the now-popular world of Mad Men.”
The costumes are a lot of fun, the intensely bright color spectrum across costumes, lighting and set elements was fantastically enjoyable. You know how I just love magenta and violet lighting. And sure, there was quite a bit of orange, but it was not too overwhelming and I survived.
I have problems with orange. That’s just me.
The music was brassy and jazzy—a purposeful take on the original score again described in the booklet as a decision “to not use strings (other than a harp) and to think in terms of a muscular jazz ensemble rather than a symphonic sound.” Another source of inspiration for the new take apparently came from Hoyt Curtin’s music for Hanna-Barbera cartoons… like The Jetsons.
I knew none of this going in. Had I known, I might have been a little more prepared the level of enjoyment I was in for.
But the main point of my posting about this is that I was actually kind of blown away. I loved it. Daniel Radcliffe full-out sang and danced his way through the show. He and John Larroquette have amazing chemistry. Their performance of “Grand Old Ivy” (the Groundhog anthem) was hysterical, and the pretty extreme height difference was well played. I’m talking about Radcliffe doing a flying leap over a bent down Larroquette; Larroquette parries with one, slow fan kick over a crouched Radcliffe. I died.
Sidebar: Too bad the spectacle with the ensemble is not in this video.
So, I just want to say: if you are thinking of seeing a Broadway show before the end of the year, I really, truly recommend that you go out and enjoy some How to Succeed while Daniel Radcliffe is still starring as Finch. I know everyone is excited about Darren Criss of Glee taking over in the new year. And I admit my prejudice: I absolutely hate Glee (and I am quite willing to go on the internet record, as a musical theater aficionado, stating this). You might be really surprised by Radcliffe’s performance. I do not know how much longer John Larroquette will be around, but you also really need to see him as J.B. Biggley, the boss man.
One last: If you are wondering which souvenir is the most hilarious, and therefore the best… here it is. I could not find it in the online store whilst looking for a better image than one from my phone. My sister ran out at intermission for a memento.
It’s a pillow.
They are selling pillows with Daniel Radcliffe’s face on them. It is too funny.
Come on, I know you are laughing.
I know it.