Some of the "energetic" cast in rehearsalsBENEDICT FLETT

From the script-writers of the famed Guys and Dolls comes a comic, romantic musical: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. An under-known show by a very accomplished pair of writers”, the director, Josh Cleary, tells me when giving me an overview of the musical.

The first person I meet on set is the Head of Props, Amelia Parker. She tells me a little about the production: “It’s fun and there’s a lot of paper!” she says somewhat cryptically, though I can see what she means as she indicates to the trolley of envelopes, letters, documents, and other stationery beside her.

Not only do the props appear to have necessitated a lot of detail but the set also promises something a bit different. Amid a tumult of screw-drivers, loud bangs, and a lot of people rushing around and carrying heavy-looking panels, I arrive in the middle of the get-in of the entire set. The entire floor of the ADC stage has been lowered to enable three separate levels, and intricate machinery is inlaid in the floor to enable seamless scene changes that rely on ropes to move the props around. Such a lot of work for a set certainly leaves me curious as to the nature of the show itself.

The biggest show of Lent term takes to the ADC stage this weekBENEDICT FLETT

Putting office dramas on stage, this musical follows window-washer, Finch, from the bottom of the ladder to the very top. This production follows his story after a book, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, falls out of a sky, leading him, rung by rung, along the path to professional success, with many comic scenes along the way. When I got the chance to speak to Finch himself, actor Toby Waterworth, he told me a little about his favourite scene.

“So I arrive at the office early one Saturday morning, scatter some paperwork around, create a scene implicative of all-night working and then pretend to fall asleep so that when my boss enters, he thinks I’ve been working all night…” He describes the scene to me and I imagine it with a growing smile: “…thanks to some flattery and sweet-talking to the young assistant, I’ve got inside information about his past college and have researched his old fight-song so that I can fake mutual ground. Mixed with a great impression of my pretended work attitude, we end up singing together!”

“Some powerful singing voices come through on the solo parts and, together, the chorus is phenomenal”

The image of haphazard dancing, schoolboy songs, and ridiculous deceit offer a little glimpse of the comedy that this musical promises to show. “It just makes me laugh every time!’ Toby tells me, and I have to agree that, when I get to preview a little snippet later, it certainly makes me laugh, too.

While there, I am lucky enough to see a little of the rehearsals. Some powerful singing voices come through on the solo parts and, together, the chorus is phenomenal, echoic of the all-too-relatable despair felt when the coffee machine runs out. Director Josh counts in the recurrent twitching movements, tapping the beats to keep the cast in time, as they move energetically through fun group choreography. As well as careful dance routine, an orchestra offers live music to accompany each song.

With a lot of props – and paper! – a carefully-planned and constructed set, detailed choreography, an energetic cast, orchestral melody woven throughout, and hilarious scenes of romance, comic deceit, wit, and even the singing of a love song to oneself in the mirror (!), this self-conscious production offers some parodies of classical Broadway hits, though is undeniably deserving of its own Broadway status.

It may be an ‘under-known’ musical right now, but it promises to be a very successful one with laughter and fun all around. “You leave happy!”, the producer, Oscar Yang, tells me – and I have to admit, I left the ADC with a smile on my face, ‘Coffee Break’ playing in my head on repeat, and plans to go back to see the real thing!

How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying runs from Wednesday 15th - Saturday 25th March at 7:45pm at the ADC, with additional selected matinées

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