Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

As with The Motherf**ker with the Hat, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying wasn't high on my priority list. Big-name stars means expensive crappy seats and often lead actors who would never get cast if they weren't already famous. But as I mentioned in my weekend wrap-up, I was pretty much out of shows to see.

Despite my reluctance, the show had much to recommend it:
  • A friend of mine who ushers the show is completely in love with it
  • Ex-Idiot Mary Faber was excellent in the previous two musicals and one play I've seen her in (Saved! and Idiot, The Corn Is Green)
  • Christopher Hanke was a charming high point in the seriously lackluster Cry-Baby musical (By the way, where is James Snyder now, and why is he not somewhere on stage singing to me???)
  • John Larroquette did get a Tony for this role
  • Daniel Radcliffe was quite good in Equus, even though I didn't love that show overall (but, seriously, how cool was that Playbill cover?)
So H2S had a decent chance of not sucking, and I went into the show in fairly good spirits, even as I hauled ass up to the very last row of the balcony. Which, stunningly, had a great view. And (yay!) the show totally did not suck. It was even good, but I still wished for more.

I love fluffy musicals like The Music Man and Bye Bye Birdie (recent disastrous Broadway production aside) and even Grease (at least the recent horrendous Broadway production gave us Laura Osnes). So H2S should have been right up my street. Instead I found it a bit dull (the show, not the production). Perhaps with better leads I might have enjoyed the story more.

I know that Radcliffe and Larroquette were the big draws for the sell-out crowd, but the show really belongs to Mary Faber's hilarious turn as Smitty and Rose Hemingway's jaw-droppingly-gorgeous voice. Seriously, this is Hemingway's Broadway debut? Just ... wow. I would like her to sing to me every day, please (though perhaps not enough to pick up the cast recording--I don't remember any of the songs!). And as much as he tries to steal the show, Christopher Hanke's schtick gets old really quickly (he's seriously adorable, though, and I really do love him).

So, back to Radcliffe and Larroquette. Kudos to these guys, who are clearly having the time of their lives. And I'm pretty sure they're BFFs now, which is completely charming. These are two hard-working dudes. If they threw themselves into this show any harder, they'd break something. It's hard not to cheer for them because they are clearly so dedicated and obviously in love with their jobs (and, as it was the opening weekend for the last Harry Potter movie ever, the audience went INSANE at a trillion points during the show). Still, regardless of how much I love both actors, this show is stretching their musical-theater talent to its limit. Their singing and dancing is adequate. And their personal charm carries them along quite well (although Radcliffe lacks a bit of smarm and is just a bit too likeable for the role). All that doesn't change the fact that I'd rather have seen real MT stars in these roles.

A second round of kudos for Radcliffe, who is refreshingly brave in his career and public-persona choices. In addition to his role in Equus requiring full nudity (and, trust me, I did not need to see the full Harry--ever), the demanding role could have gone horribly wrong, and the material was a risky choice for someone still in the middle of filming such a family-friendly franchise. The same for his hilarious turn as a want-to-be womanizer and chain smoker in an episode of Ricky Gervais's funniest series, Extras. He is also a loud supporter of LGBT rights, speaks out frequently for The Trevor Project's crusade to prevent teen suicide, and never felt the need to clarify for the press his relationship with trans singer-songwriter Our Lady J (read the excellent Out article where she interviews him). It would be difficult for me to love Daniel Radcliffe any more than I already do. To fall in love with him for yourself, look no further than the video of his Trevor Project speech in my earlier post.

[ETA: So much love for this dude for never missing a performance during his run as Finch. Well played, boy wizard.]

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