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Throwback Thursday: How to Succeed… in 1995

Something that we didn’t expect to be talking about today: The 1995 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It seems that lots of other folks are talking about it, too, given the new revival that’s starring everyone’s favorite young cinematic wizard, Daniel Radcliffe. Neither of us saw the ’95 version, which starred Matthew Broderick and won him a Tony. The Mick was 12 and otherwise deeply distracted from Broadway by the rigors of fifth grade. I, at the tender age of 15, knew about the show thanks to its performance on the Tony Awards that year, which I taped on VHS like any typical high schooler who clearly had no friends.

But watching that Tony Awards footage now, with a whole new production on Broadway, it presents an interesting contrast—and some distinct similarities. Clearly, no one thinks they can stage How to Succeed… without a movie star at the helm. On the other hand, the new revival presents the story as a straight-forward, unironic fable—blatant sexism and all, while the old one winked pretty hard at the audience, and at itself. Check out Wayne Cilento’s bendy/stiff businessman choreography, and the inclusion of the secretaries at the end in a welcome Girl Power moment.

On another interesting note, Matthew Broderick may have taken home the trophy in ’95, but the biggest moment in the show’s biggest number clearly belonged to the mind-blowing Lillias White. In light of that, we kind of had to wonder. If the two How to Succeeds were playing across the street from each other…

Which production, and which J. Pierrepont Finch, would you rather see?

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Amanda April 1, 2011, 12:52 am

    The revival was actually in 1995. It closed in 1996 with John Stamos, whom I would choose over Ferris Bueller and Harry Potter, for the record!

  • lucky April 1, 2011, 6:46 am

    Fixed. Dear me!

  • Molly April 9, 2011, 12:28 am

    Having now seen both Ferris and Harry in the role, I must say that Matthew Broderick (and the ENTIRE 1995 production) was far superior. Not to say anything bad about how hard Daniel Radcliffe worked, because I was surprised and impressed with how good he was. But Matthew Broderick’s acting choices were smarter and his singing voice was stronger. It’s Bueller, hands down.

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