How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was performed at the Théâtre De Ménilmontant, Paris.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
27 Saville is a French theatre company created and run by English-born and Guilford School of Acting-trained Jessica Capon.
With no less then 30 artists who specialise in musical theatre on board, recent productions included Ten Tonys at Théâtre Adyar in June 2016.
This year Saville has been more ambitious and has treated us to two adaptations of musicals representing key moments in American history: prohibition in the roaring 1920s with The Wild Party, and the corporate world of the 1950s in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, both performed to a book in French but with the songs in English. The decision to place subtitles in the background appeared odd at first, but turned out to work rather well.
With Jessica Capon playing the central role of Queenie and Mathieu Ouvrard as Burrs, Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party ultimately emerges as inferior to John LaChusia’s, recently seen in a remarkable production at The Other Palace in London.
Despite a great score, filled with hit songs such as ‘Raise the Roof’, ‘Maybe I Like It This Way’ and ‘The Life of the Party’, it suffers from an even weaker and more depressing book.
But that is not at all the fault of the Saville company which gave its all, especially in the dance department, with some energetic choreography performed by the talented members of the cast.
How to Succeed, on the other hand, like most great classic musicals, has a very strong and often funny, if slightly too long, book [by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert] that has aged rather well, with a wonderful score by Franck Loesser.
Though it is hard to forget the two brilliant revivals of How to Succeed on Broadway in 1995, with Matthew Broderick, and in 2011, with Daniel Radcliffe (impeccably directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford), the enthusiastic 27 Saville company really did justice to the material, with inventive staging and choreography and a great cast.
English-born Thomas Taplin was perfect as Finch, and so was vocally impressive Sarah Serres as Rosemary, while young Corentin Boisgard was totally believable as JB Biggley.
The large ensemble and the band on stage, very seldom found in France, all added up to a spirited evening as witnessed by the sold-out enthusiastic crowd on closing night.
We must thank Saville for choosing such comparatively unknown pieces in France such as The Wild Party and How to Succeed.
It is so sad that such talented performers and great shows are put together for only a couple of performances.
The Saville 27 productions should enjoy longer runs, transfers or tours, if only to show how American musicals should be done in France.