"That Grin of Impetuous Youth": How to Succeed Revival, With Daniel Radcliffe, Opens on Broadway

By Adam Hetrick
27 Mar 2011

Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette
Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette
Photo by Ari Mintz

Daniel Radcliffe climbs the ladder from window washer to corporate wunderkind in the 50th anniversary revival of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, which officially opens March 27 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Tony Award winner Rob Ashford (Parade, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cry-Baby), who also staged the Broadway revival of the 1960's office-set musical Promises, Promises last season, directs and choreographs How to Succeed, which began previews Feb. 26.

Best known to audiences across the world as the young titular wizard in the "Harry Potter" films, Radcliffe is making his Broadway musical debut as ambitious window washer J. Pierrepont Finch, proving his élan as a dancer, singer and comedian. Radcliffe was last seen on Broadway in the revival of the psychological drama Equus.

The jazz-flavored musical features a score by Frank Loesser with a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert.



The cast also features Emmy Award-winning actor John Larroquette ("Night Court") as World Wide Wicket Company president J.B. Biggley, Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Tammy Blanchard (Gypsy, "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows") as office bombshell Hedy La Rue, Christopher J. Hanke (In My Life, Cry-Baby) as Bud Frump, Rose Hemingway (Parade at the Mark Taper Forum) in her Broadway debut as Rosemary Pilkington, Rob Bartlett (Chicago, Little Shop of Horrors) as Twimble/Wally Womper, Mary Faber (American Idiot, Avenue Q) as Smitty, Ellen Harvey (Thou Shalt Not, The Music Man) as Miss Jones and Michael Park (Middletown) as Bert Bratt.

The How to Succeed ensemble features Cameron Adams, Cleve Asbury, Tanya Birl, Kevin Covert, Paige Faure, David Hull, Justin Keyes, Marty Lawson, Erica Mansfield, Barrett Martin, Nick Mayo, Sarah O'Gleby, Stephanie Rothenberg, Megan Sikora, Michaeljon Slinger, Joey Sorge, Matt Wall, Ryan Watkinson, Charlie Williams and Samantha Zack.

Anderson Cooper is the voice of the narrator to the trusty "How to Succeed" guidebook for corporate success. The musical traces the rise of a young window washer, who with the help of the titular book, rises from the mail room to the top of the World Wide Wicket Company in New York City.

Rose Hemingway
photo by Ari Mintz

"I've always had an attraction to musicals," Radcliffe revealed to Ashford in a special interview for Playbill. "I've always been taken to see musicals by my parents, who love musicals, and I grew up with them. Every long car journey that we'd go on, we'd be playing either the [cast album] of Company or Chicago, which used to terrify me. I used to be so scared of those women. I still am!"

The young star also went on to draw parallels between the world of 1960's corporate America and today. "Well, I think, first of all, we live in times when big business is under a huge amount of scrutiny, and I think it will be fun for people to see big business have the piss taken out of it," he added. "That's going to be funny, and also, you've got with the advent of Facebook and especially, last year, with the film 'The Social Network' – Finch is kind of a period Mark Zuckerberg who is a kid who kind of comes to a realization that he's smarter than everybody else out there and he won't let being a kid in any way inhibit [him] from attaining what he wants."

Designing the production are Derek McLane (set design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Howell Binkley (lighting design), Jon Weston (sound design), Doug Besterman (orchestrations) and David Chase (music director and arranger).

The revival is produced by Broadway Across America (John Gore, Thomas B. McGrath, Beth Williams), Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Joseph Smith, Michael McCabe, Candy Spelling, Takonkiet Viravan/Scenario Thailand, Two Left Feet Productions/PowerArts, Jen Namoff/Fakston Productions, Hilary A. Williams, HOP Theatricals, LLC/Paul Chau/Daniel Frishwasser/Michael Jackowitz, and Michael Speyer - Bernie Abrams/Jacki Barlia Florin - Adam Blanshay/Arlene Scanlan/TBS Service.

The original 1961 production earned seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Author and Best Score, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Robert Morse earned a Tony Award for his performance as J. Pierrepont Finch. How to Succeed was last revived on Broadway in 1995 starring Tony winner Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally.

Rob Ashford earned a 2002 Best Choreography Tony Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie. He has been Tony-nominated for Cry-Baby, Curtains and The Wedding Singer. He earned acclaim for directing the Donmar Warehouse productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Parade.

For tickets, priced $52-$132, phone (212) 239-6200 or visit Telecharge. The Al Hirschfeld Theatre is located at 302 West 45th Street.