Sunday, June 19, 2011

Review: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Live theater is just the best, isn't it? Even when you have to leave the apartment super-early on a Saturday to stand in line for an hour surrounded by fat Midwesterners in Time Square just to get a half-way affordable ticket. I'm not exactly bitter about it, because there's a lot of manpower involved in putting on a Broadway show and all those people need to get a living wage. But back in 2006 I saw a few professional operas in Prague where private box seats were only $30 a ticket and standing tickets to a matinee were $3, so bitter, not so much, but a maybe a teensy bit salty.

Yesterday the BF, R and myself went to see "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," a revival of a Frank Loesser musical from 1961 about a brash young lad, played by Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe, who cons his way to the top of the corporate ladder armed with nothing but his trusty How To... book and his killer asskissing skills. We'd really wanted to get tickets to see "The Book of Mormon," but after it won 9 Tony Awards last week, I have a better chance of single-handedly legalizing marijuana than getting tickets to that musical.

So it was either "How to Succeed" or "The Normal Heart," and given a choice between a lighthearted middle Broadway musical and a depressing late Broadway play about AIDS, we went with dancing Harry Potter. Sure, it was kinda sexist--there was a somewhat unsettling number when the secretaries all try to make the female lead marry her boss because it fulfills every secretary's secret dream--but the sight of all those secretaries and well-choreographed businessmen prancing about in slim early-60s suits and ties made up for it. I love the dancing in these middle Broadway, Frank Loesser/Kander & Ebb shows like "Cabaret" and "How to Succeed." It's all just so--symmetrical. I know it's a little passe at this point in time. More shows seem to be either moving toward the slightly looser and wilder dancing in "Fela!" which is a superior musical in every way, or toward parodying that middle Broadway style like "The Book of Mormon." But I think there's still something to be said for a show that's unabashedly sincere about being a traditional Broadway musical. I didn't cry at the end of this, or leave the theater feeling like I'd learned something about the human condition, but I grinned the entire time and have a whole new set of songs to whistle on my morning walk to the subway.

And sometimes that's all you need to succeed.

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