After a short and well-received run in the fall of 1994 at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying debuted at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 23, 1995. The luminous troupe was led by Matthew Broderick as J. Pierrepont Finch, supported by the equally impressive Tom Flynn in the role of Milt Gatch and Ronn Carroll as J.B. Biggley. The show even included voice-over narration from none other than veteran news anchorman Walter Cronkite. The new Broadway cast recording made on April 2, 1995, at the Hit Factory in New York City sported Danny Troob's fresh and updated orchestral arrangement of Frank Loesser's brilliant score. Perhaps within the context of the live presentation, the modernizations would not stand out so glaringly. However, as is always the risk when updating a "classic," something inevitably gets lost in the translation. Ted Sperling is certainly on par with his other lauded productions such as 2000's original Broadway cast recording of The Full Monty. The plot follows Finch 's (Broderick) rise from merely being a window washer outside to becoming a CEO inside the headquarters of the World Wide Wickets Company. In an ironic twist, Finch's guide to the top -- and the text on which the actual play was adapted -- is Shepherd Mead's Pulitzer-winning fictional satire How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The author's intimate knowledge of corporate politics stemmed from actual experiences as an advertising executive. While the interpretation and subject matter haven't lost their relevance in the intervening three-plus decades since the initial staging, much of the intuitive chemistry between the cast has been diffused, translating into lessened drama. That said, there are plenty of timeless tunes, including Megan Mullally's portrayal of Rosemary Pilkington on "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm" as well as her co-lead with Broderick on "Rosemary." Of somewhat lesser interest are the bigger ensemble pieces "Coffee Break" and "In the Company Way."
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer