★★★★ | How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Wilton’s Music Hall in the East End has another hit on its hands.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is their fun and superb new show now playing at the historic venue. And it’s got the right cast to succeed without really trying to be a hit!
Mark Pickering plays J. Pierrepont Finch – an ex-window washer who cleverly climbs the corporate ladder by taking tips from a book called ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ (obvs). His first step is to get a job, so he starts in the mail room at World Wide Wicket Company, working with Bud Frump (a very good Daniel Graham) – the nephew of CEO JB Biggley (Andrew C. Wadsworth). Company secretary Rosemary Pilkington (Hannah Grover) takes a liking to Finch, but Finch has more climbing the ladder to do, and soon enough he’s a junior executive. In the blink of an eye, he’s promoted to run the advertising department. And eventually, Finch will be after Biggley’s job, who has employed in the company his mistress Hedy La Rue (an excellent Lizzii Hills). She’s stacked but not too bright, and unfortunately, she gets enlisted in Finch’s new advertising campaign where she gives away the clues to a company competition, which could possibly lead to hers, Finch’s, and the company’s downfall. It’s a story told in laughs and colourful songs.
The cast is perfect and the staging particularly brilliant. Especially good are Pilkington (great voice and timing) Hills (great comedic wit), Graham (perfect for the role as the spoiled nephew who doesn’t quite get what he thinks he deserves – with great facial expressions), and Matthew Whitby as the HR Director. Excellent direction by Benji Sperring brings this production, which is based on the 1952 book and the 1961 Broadway musical (and which has not been seen in London since 1963 when it played at the Shaftsbury Theatre). It’s pretty much as relevant today as it was when it was originally produced. And the very last song – “Company Way” – where Maisey Bawden finally comes into her own and belts her heart out, leaves the audience wanting more.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying plays at the Wilton’s Music Hall, London until April 22.
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.