Durham University Light Opera Group’s production of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying is a masterfully polished piece of theatre. Simon Finch plays J. Pierrepont, a window washer who, with the assistance of the self help guide that gives the show its title, climbs his way through the ranks of his company, finding love along the way. It doesn’t sound like much and indeed, on the list of reasons to go and watch this show, the plot is languishing somewhere at the bottom.
The cast members are impressively skilful dancers and, for a student production, the dance numbers have an astonishingly professional flavour.
At the top of the list, we have Susie Hudson’s choreography, which at times drew gasps from the audience and would not look out of place on a West End stage. The cast members are impressively skilful dancers and, for a student production, the dance numbers have an astonishingly professional flavour. Musically, the show is equally strong. Occasionally, the volume balance between the singers and the band could be better but this is largely not a problem.
The acting, while not as revelatory as the choreography, is still strong. Sarah Slimani as cigarette girl turned secretary Hedy LaRue gives the stand out performance. She is loud, brash and exciting but never slips into caricature. Having said that, the show shines above all as an ensemble performance, with many actors playing several roles highly successfully.
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying is funny and charming, with moments which are genuinely impressive. This show won’t change your life. But when it is such good fun, it doesn’t need to.