How To Succeed In Business Without Really trying is a musical from the man who brought us Guys and Dolls, but it’s become the lesser known of the two. It’s experiencing a new lease of life since its 50th anniversary Broadway revival last year, with Daniel Radcliffe taking the lead role, and now the Centre Stage theatre company have performed the show this week at the Bridewell Theatre, in the heart of the City of London, under the skilled direction of Dom O’Hanlon.
The heavy lead role of Finch was carried well by Benjamin Long who managed to strike the balance between simple and cunning that makes this character very entertaining – but he isn’t over-played. He’s in good company with his rival Bud Frump – played by Matt Hudson – and his one time boss Mr Twinble – played by Kevin Sherwin – who secures an early triumph with his performance of ‘The Company Way’. The female characters certainly look the part – even in the unfortunate scene where they all turn up in the same ‘Paris original’ dress. But of all the attractive secretaries and sexy mistresses, it’s the more sober Miss Jones, played by Mimi Kroll, who steals the spotlight. Comical in her sheer movements, she owns the humour written in the lines and then rounds it all off with a star performance of ‘Brotherhood of Man’ towards the end of the show.
The score is rich, and the ensemble were strong, and well used throughout. Clever use of blinds and office compartment walls make for well choreographed group numbers, and unlike many similar productions I’ve seen before, the show is not reliant on a few strong leads. The company performance of ‘Coffee Break’ is a stand out moment, describing the horror of an office who runs out of the black stuff – enjoyed by many in the audience who related to the work culture, even 50 years after the show was written and set.
Having seen Centre Stage productions of The Wedding Singer, Zanna Don’t, as well as their Halloween cabaret last year, I can safely say this is their best effort of the past few years. Look out for their future performances at The Bridewell Theatre.