Theatre: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Of course there was another reason to travel to Chichester yesterday and that was to catch How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying before it ended. It is a very silly show although one could get some career guidance out of the central message that a little bit of research and a lot of brown-nosing can get you anywhere if you play your cards right.

The show was a lot of fun and well staged in the Chichester Festival Theatre. It is a very funny show and despite some of the stereotyping and sexual innuendo (or perhaps because of it) it still holds up well. Some songs such as "A Secretary Is Not A Toy" had difficulty being accepted by the mild-mannered Chichester audiences. They were much more comfortable with the standard from the show (I don’t think there is more than one) "I believe in you". The little old folk beside me at the back row were humming away to that one (a pity they were drowning out the ever-so-faint leads)... Such are the things audience members have to endure when they see something in repertory in Chichester no doubt.

It was a pretty faithful revival to the original production which was a bit unfortunate as at three hours it could have done with a little trimming. It seems to be a trend with revivals at the moment (well at least with Frank Loesser shows) to throw in every musical number ever connected to the show to please the aficionados out there. This is fine if the songs are any good, but just as the West End production of Guys and Dolls pads out the first act with a throwaway number "Adelaide", this show inflicts us with "Cinderella Darling" which was cut from the 1995 Broadway revival on the grounds surely that it made the all-female secretaries look like meek pathetic little things.

I am also not so sure if the female lead of Rosemary played by Fiona Dunn should have been so bland and have such bad posture. She was outshone a little by the blonde bombshell Heddy (played by Annette McLaughlin). But despite all this the audience was still on Rosemary's side... Finch was played by (the very nice Scotsman) Joe McFadden who had great comic timing which made up for what he was lacking in the vocal department. I Last saw him in Aladdin at Christmas last year where he was just as silly there as well.

So overall the set was great, the ensemble terrific and the dancing excellent and all those other things that make something entertaining were there (although nobody flew across the stage on wires which is very popular nowadays – even if the reason is a bit dodgy). Who could ask for anything more? More coffee perhaps... Especially to stay awake for the duration of the last train back to London. One could stay in Chichester for more than an afternoon, but that would be stretching it I think...

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