In a recent blog I did about The Company I spoke about being blown away by their production of 'Parade a few years ago.
Last night at the Lowry, I got to watch another bunch of 13 to 23 year olds act sing and dance their hearts out, and whilst it did not have the impact on me that Parade did I was still left amazed by the sheer talent on and off the stage.
How to Succeed tells the story of J Pierrepont Finch, a window washer who with the help of a trusty How To book climbs his way to the top of the corporate ladder, but not without some shady moves, clever manoeuvring and of course a touch of romance.
The Company have cleverly kept the set minimal but striking, keeping the focus on the talented cast and show, a device that some of the professional productions would be best served doing. Tom O'Brien has kept proceedings moving along at a brisk pace despite its long run time and with the help of the choreography by Lee Crowley 60s corporate America is captured perfectly.
The biggest problem is nothing to do with the cast or team but the show itself, having seen the recent Broadway revival the show does not seem to hold up well, the plot is slight and the score ranges from impressive ("Brotherhood of Man") to forgettable ("Cinderella", "Darling"). Act 1 is endlessly entertaining but act 2 collapses a little with a few rather pointless moments.
The reason I had a great night though was quite simply down to everyone on and off stage. Joshua Gannon as Finch had a warm quirky charm about him that made you want to root for him (eat your heart out Daniel Radcliffe who played him on Broadway), Mal Hall as Gatch is superb and shows a real flair in his delivery, Alice Masters as Rosemary has the kind of voice that feels like she has walked straight out of 60s musical theatre and Bart Lambert as the spoilt Bud is just slimy enough without ever going over the top.
However three of the biggest revelations of the night were in the support roles. Jessica Smith as Smitty delivered one of the best songs of the night and played the role to perfection and James Hill as Twimble and Danielle Kassarate as Hedy were Hysterical. In fairness though the whole company did an outstanding job (including the fantastic Band).
How to Succeed will never be one of my favourite shows but if anybody could make me enjoy it, it was always going to be The Company, and that they did, to achieve what they do at their ages and in only 10 days is something truly remarkable, I only wish we got more than one production a year from them.
I will say though I would love to see them tackle something heavier again as they did with Parade, but whatever they do I will always be there to watch because The Company do it with style.
- Craig Hepworth