RIALTO CHATTER: Scoop on New Reading of How To Succeed in Business
This just in from one of the Rialto Chatter's trusted "scoopers"...
I was lucky enough to accompany one of the invited guests to the private reading of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It took place Monday (Dec 21) at Playwrights Horizons at 3 pm in one of their rehearsal rooms. I was told that the guest list was very tight and not a lot of people were allowed to go because it was more of a test run and not any kind of backers audition.
The producers seem to be the same group who are doing the new production of Promises, Promises: Broadway Across America, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
It was directed by Rob Ashford...and it was clear that if it moved forward that Ashford would direct and choreograph it. I didn't recognize many people there in the audience but the excitement was that Jo Loesser was front and center. David Chase played the piano and was the musical director.
First things first. Daniel Radcliffe was AMAZING. He interpreted the role in a charming, adorable and fresh way. He sang great. I think everyone was there to see if he could do it. And boy, he really did it. He was great. He came off as a full-fledged musical star. Those of us who saw him in Equus know he has the stage chops as a dramatic actor but now I can say that he could easily take Broadway by storm as a musical comedy star, too. After that final Harry Potter movie comes out, this guy can do whatever he wants in any medium. I loved him. And it seems to me that he is the youngest actor to play the role of Finch. And his youth made the show feel fresh and new. It had a new kind of innocence to contrast the cynicism of the world he is in.
They really cast it well, too, even though I know it was just a reading. Rose Sezniak was Rosemary and she was also young and a perfect match for Daniel. She sang and acted the role really well. Everyone loved her. She was kinda magical. David Hyde Pierce was hilarious and unexpected as Biggley. What a great idea for that part. And Michael Urie (from Ugly Betty) was outrageous as Frump. He was hysterical! I also liked Mary Faber as Smitty, Lewis Stadlen as Womper and Twimble, Nancy Opel as Miss Jones, Don Stephenson as Mr. Bratt, and Renee Goldsberry as Heddy La Rue. (The had handed out a sheet of paper with all the names as a sort of program.)
One nice treat was to have John Stamos read the narration and stage directions, especially since he replaced Matthew Broderick in the revival of the show 15 years ago. So that was very cool.
It was one of the best afternoons of theater I've seen in a long time and I only hope that it was a good experience for Daniel Radcliffe because he would be a welcome addition to next year's Broadway musical season. The show seemed not out of date or old fashioned because of the state of the economy and what the world of big business has been going through recently. And there is renewed interest in this period because of Mad Men.
The most exciting moment for me came at the end when Mrs. Loesser jumped out of her seat to shout to the cast how much she loved them and the reading.
And afterwards, she was hugging Daniel and he seemed really happy and proud to have pleased her. It was a great achievement for him and it was a great day for me and the rest of the people who were lucky to be a part of this amazing afternoon.
Hoping these folks decide to take it to Broadway so everyone can get a chance to see D.R. back on Broadway, but this time in a musical comedy!
Photo Credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.