How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Thu 21st – Sat 23rd February 2013

reviews

Lauren Hutchinson

at 16:31 on 22nd Feb 2013

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A quick disclaimer to begin- do not let the star rating discourage you from seeing this show. This year's Magdalene Musical is ultimately an admirable effort set in a challenging space by a capable cast. Just because it didn't leave me leaping out of my seat with admiration and excitement, doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy a few laughs (intentional or otherwise) and it certainly does not mean I was not aware of specific individual's well placed talent.

'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' tells the irony laden, if altogether emotionally absent story, of wannabe businessman J. Pierrepont Finch as he climbs the corporate ladder in 1950's America. In his first year, Jackson Caines really shone as Finch and looked the part of the eager young executive. He showed impressive vocal ability and unwavering energy- an impressive feat as he dominated the stage for the majority of the three hours. Smaller roles however really made the show for me. Nicholas Cadwell's gormless air and hilarious facial expressions and Eaven Prenter's classy, stand out singing, aided by her perfect comic timing, were personal highlights.

The length of the piece was not necessarily a problem, though I did feel rather uncomfortable sitting listening to overtures at the beginning of each act which left quite a lot to be desired. Sometimes whole sections of the band seemed to fall out of existence, leaving hollow echoes and nervous laughter among the audience members. However, as a show not performed at the ADC, it is understandable the difficulties of rallying a full pit band, though this did sound severely under rehearsed in parts.

However, as an ensemble, the cast of 'How to Succeed' really did impress, holding stellar harmonies in the little time they did all appear on stage together. It left me wanting to hear much more of the strong collective vocal. ‘Coffee Break’ stood out particularly as a number that showcased the chorus’ great enthusiasm and ability, though this did seem to wane slightly as the show progressed.

Kennedy Bloomer should also be mentioned for moments of choreographic genius in such numbers as 'A Secretary is Not A Toy' which really utilised the difficult perimeters of the Cripps Auditorium, along with the inventive staging and direction by Rosalind Peters of ‘I Believe in You’.

I would definitely encourage a visit to 'How to Succeed' for these last performances, if not just to see some great new or previously unseen talent. The cast and crew deserve congratulations, but an appeal to give more energy and conviction in what has all the potential to be a slick and impressive show.

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