When I went: 19 May 2015
Location: Royal Festival Hall, London
Performers: Jonathan Groff (J. Pierrepont Finch), Nicolas Colicos (voice of the book), Clarke Peters (J.B. Biggley), Cynthia Erivo (Rosemary Pilkington), Hannah Waddingham (Hedy LaRue), Ashley Robinson (Bud Frump)
Creative team: Frank Loesser (music and lyrics), Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert (book), Mike Dixon (musical director and conductor)
Approximate price: £70
Special points: Constant humorous moments
Best bit: The Company Way
If I could change one thing: On for longer!
How to Succeed has been boosted on Broadway in recent years by the involvement of Daniel Radcliffe and Darren Criss. It is a strong musical with plenty of humour and wit, several memorable songs and a pacy book, despite its old-fashioned setting.
Unusually, this was a ‘concert’ performance of the musical, meaning there was no real staging; the actors all sat on chairs in a row onstage when not in a scene, and there was a sound effects box right next to them which also recorded the performance. The actors held scripts, although Jonathan Groff in the lead role of J. Pierrepont Finch barely glanced at his.
The informal nature of the performance only added to the hilarity, and when the occasional slip-up with lines or sound effects occurred, it wasn’t a problem for the audience, who were loving the show. Groff oozed charisma as always and Cynthia Erivo as Rosemary sung beautifully (unsurprisingly as she recently won a Tony for her role in Hamilton). Hannah Waddingham was perfect as the brash Hedy LaRue and Ashley Robinson was weirdly likeable as the resentful Bud Frump.
This performance was so good that I immediately resolved to see a full stage performance of this musical at the first opportunity.