It’s a book, a film and a musical. Sit back and relax for a lengthy session of charades. Over the last 30 years and more, Edinburgh Music Theatre has been synonymous with everything good in musical theatre. With good production values and a talented cast they present the Broadway musical ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ that was recently revived in London with Daniel Radcliff in the lead.
While as a company Edinburgh Music Theatre has not been afraid to tackle a musical not on the usual repertoire of amateur companies this show could have done with Harry Potter’s magical touches to make it a bit shorter. However, if you like value for money then this is the show for you with a first act of 100 minutes and the second running for 75 minutes with the result that the show comes down at 10.40pm.
The director’s programme notes about this not being a conventional musical ring true with the action centred around one key character. J. Pierrepoint Finch (Adam Pringle) who wants to swap window cleaning ladders for the ladder of success.
On his way up he uses some dubious tactics for advancement that makes it hard to warm towards the ‘hero’ despite Adam Pringle’s talent as a performer. Finch meets a lot of snakes on the way including the excellently devious and obnoxious Brad Frump (David Doherty) the president’s unpopular nephew.
The role of the secretaries is very much the pre-feminist mode, but the tap dancing troupe make the most of their limited opportunities to shine. The male ensemble joins the male principals in a very slick routine around the best show tune ‘Brotherhood of Man’ which is deep into Act 2.
Although Finch does not like romance to hinder upward mobility at work, there is love interest with Rosemary (Emily Goad) who delivers a number of plaintive solos with conviction and style. She is ably supported by Smitty (Cavell Knowles and the gravelly voiced Miss Krumholtz. Julia More as the easily flattered secretary Miss Jones has some excellent scenes including putting her trust in the arms of the male executives of the World Wide Widget Company.
It is however, the towering performance in every sense of Josephine Heinemeier who plays the President’s mistress who has some of the best lines and is probably one of the few endearing characters in the show. Every woman’s worst nightmare of someone wearing the same dress is cleverly exploited in ‘Paris Original’ J.B.Biggley (Kenneth Pinkerton) as the President and Chris Cameron as his yes man give convincing and effective performances.
With good sales staff, clever packaging and a solid backroom team the company has all the ingredients to succeed in business but the product would benefit from being condensed.
Runs to Saturday 23rd March 2013, 7.30 pm; Sat matinee, 2.30pm
£14 for Evening Performances, £12 for Matinee (Concessions £2 reduction)