first night

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill thoroughly enjoys TCMS' production of Frank Loesser's musical

Last night marked my third outing to the Trevs dining room-turned-theatre indulging my musical side. Alongside the Gala show, the Trevs musical is one I unfailingly make a point of seeing, all the more charming for lacking the large-scale budget and performance arena afforded to DULOG, and no less professional. Last year they chose Sweet Charity, and the year before, Funny Girl, so I was impressed by this year’s decision to opt for something a little more off the beaten track. In light of recent announcements about 2011’s Broadway offerings, however, I suspect there might be a Daniel Radcliffe fan within the ranks of the production team.


George Haynes is absolutely superlative in the role of J. Pierrepoint Finch, the story’s ambitious protagonist with a mind for advancement in the business sector. Guided by a ‘book voice’ that tells him everything he needs to succeed, Finch enters the World Wide Wicket Company and discovers that whilst there’s more to life than business meetings and sexy secretaries, they are an excellent place to start.


Liam Larke is the stuff of Trevs musical legend. Just when I thought there was no surpassing his surreal depiction of a hippy in last year’s musical, for 2011 he was given the opportunity to try his jazz hands at a leading role. Let’s face it, he can’t do an American accent for toffee, but this is more than compensated for by his charismatic and at times hilarious portrayal of bumbling Company Manager, J.B. Biggley.


I’m not quite sure how he manages it, but director Sam Watkinson is the stand-in for Will Noon in the role of nepotism-minded Bud Frump, and puts every inch of those long slender limbs of his to full comedic use in the process. I imagine that all those long nights spent poring over the production have manifested themselves as precisely the brand of coffee-induced nervousness that is able to enrich the authenticity of his portrayal. In a funny show (the characters are alternately concerned with coffee and Playboy), Frump’s role is that of the office laughing stock, and Watkinson manages neither to overegg the pudding nor to forget the raisins.


Natalie Goodwin plays Rosemary, the secretary whose wide eyes are fixed immovably on Finch as a man whose dinner she would be “happy to keep warm”. Goodwin’s voice is stunning, but sufficiently controlled never to forego the note of vulnerability that brings out her character’s insecurity. Even for a show written in 1950s America, her character oozes saccharine sweetness, but fortunately this is countered a little by sexy airhead Heddy LaRue (Rebecca Carver) whose teetering stiletto totterings across the stage soon answered my question about her name.


The chorus are first rate, beamingly enthusiastic throughout and unfailingly in sync. The hair and costume team have obviously done their research. There was never an eyelash out of place any more than there was a doubt in my mind that we were most decidedly in 1950s New York. The orchestra are fortunate to have such a varied and unusual score, and left me, as always, frustrated that they are never afforded a spotlight of their own.


I could go on - at three hours long from start to finish, the show is, yes, rather demanding, but it is a show that deserves a big, appreciative audience. It’s on until Saturday and I implore you to go. In the midst of a term where it seems everyone is desperate to succeed at one thing or another, it’s refreshing to see a group of performers pull it off so effortlessly.


17 February 2011

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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