How To Succeed… 2011 Revival Cast Recording Review

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By Samantha Dupler

In 1962, Abe BurrowsHow To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying won both the Tony Award for Best Musical and Pulitzer Prize in Drama. This year, the current production starring Daniel Radcliffe in the iconic role of J. Pierrepont Finch was nominated for a Tony once again, this time in the revival category. The score for this musical, composed by Frank Loesser, was nominated for a Tony in 1962 and has since been remembered fondly for having some beloved Broadway tunes. There is no doubt that the actual musical is high quality and generally enjoyable, but does this particular production do it any real justice?

Daniel Radcliffe is a gifted actor who made a stunning Broadway debut in Equus in 2008 and is making his musical debut with this production.  Unfortunately, his voice is not as strong as his acting.  He has clearly studied voice in preparation for this role as his singing is very controlled, clear and fairly consistent throughout the album. It may not be a voice that haunts your ears well after the curtain falls, but it is definitely the kind of voice that a show like this requires. Radcliffe does a fine job of masking his British accent while playing the part of the all-American wannabe businessman, and remains in character on each and every syllable.

Most every song is performed as well as, if not better than, the songs on the original album. The instrumentals/orchestrations are spot-on and the lyrics still manage to be contemporary despite being written almost fifty years ago. The story of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying has a plot that remains relevant, and the cast manages to make the score work and sound modern. The ensemble is all-around strong in numbers like “Coffee Break,” “A Secretary Is Not a Toy,” and “Brotherhood of Man.” Rose Hemingway as Rosemary has a strong voice and makes songs like “Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm” sound relevant to a 2011 audience thanks to her devotion to her character. Like Radcliffe, she too acts through her singing and fully believes what she is singing swinging the song over the fine line between satire and sexism.

In fact, something that this score demands and this cast delivers in almost every number is conviction. Allowing this recording to sound fresh and appropriate for a modern audience. The 2011 revival cast of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying excels at making each song believable and truthful to its intention making this soundtrack a worthy successor to the two previous recordings.