A/V Room









How to succeed.... in Chichester

Preview by David Munro

PRESUMABLY by following last year’s successful musical, Out Of This World, with yet another - How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Last year, we had a fable about the deeds and misdeeds of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece.

This year, we have another fable, this time about how to make your way from window cleaner to President of the corporation without actually trying.

Well not quite; the protagonist, J Pierrepont Finch, succeeds in business by exploiting situations and his fellow employees following the precepts of Shepherd Meade’s eponymous book and to the accompaniment of one of Frank Loesser’s better, if not best, scores.

The musical was produced to great acclaim on Broadway in 1961 and in London in 1963. It is a sharp, hard-hitting look at the mores of big business in America with an acerbic book by Abe Burrows, who rewrote the original librettos by Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert.

Burrows (but not Weinstock and Gilbert) with Loesser were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the show garnered a clutch of Tony Awards, although Loesser lost out to Richard Rodgers that year.

Abe Burrows (it will be remembered) co-authored Frank Loesser’s other great success, Guys and Dolls, which co-incidentally is opening in London contemporaneously with How to Succeed…...

Actually, this is fortuitous, as it will give the pundits who argue whether How to Succeed….. or Guys And Dolls is Loesser’s greatest achievement a chance to see both simultaneously and, it is hoped, come to a final decision.

Certainly, Chichester has lined up a formidable team to fight the show’s corner.

James Bolam returns to the musical stage, in the footsteps of Rudy Vallee, and Billy de Wolfe, as J.G.Biggley, the president of the company.

Joe McFadden, fresh from Aladdin at the Old Vic, steps into the shoes of Robert Morse and Warren Berlinger as the faux naïf J Pierrepont Finch.

The love interest is supplied by Fiona Dunn, as Rosemary, the secretary who loves him and is 'happy to keep his dinner warm', while Sophie Louise Dann plays Smitty, the hard-boiled secretary who watches the office manoeuvres with a cynical eye.

The director is Martin Duncan reuniting many of the production team from Out Of This World, while the choreographer is Stephen Mears – Olivier Award winner for Mary Poppins.

The score includes Finch’s love song to himself, I believe in you, the secretaries paean to their Coffee Break and their declaration of rights that A secretary is not a toy.

The male office workers praise the Brotherhood of man and “The Company way, while Rosemary and Smitty hymn the virtues of their Paris Original and so on.

All of which seems to indicate a trip to Sussex as soon as possible!

How To Succeed …. plays in repertory from April 29 to September 10 and I hear that there are reductions of prices in May when 1/3rd of the tickets for all performances are £10 only.

So ring the Box Office - 01243 781312 - and take advantage of the chance to see what promises to be an excellent afternoon or evening out at bargain prices.


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