Rose Hemingway, in her Broadway debut, is Ponty's love interest Rosemary Pillkington, a secretary at World Wide Wickets and a woman on the hunt for a husband. In “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm” she pines for the man for whom she will sit patiently and wait while he comes "home from downtown." This is one area where this show feels creaky. Ms. Hemingway gave a lovely performance although I found it slightly bland. In all honesty, the character itself isn't one of my favorites in musical theatre and much of my complaint could be attributed to that.
TV and film's John Larroquette makes an hilarious Broadway debut (“better late than never” as he says in his bio) as the big boss J.B. Biggley, the head of World Wide Wickets. His comedic timing is brilliant. At one point Mr. Larroquette tripped on a line. It broke his concentration and you could see him drop out of character ever so briefly before catching himself. He recovered quickly and almost seamlessly.
As Biggley’s nephew and Ponty’s nemesis , Christopher J. Hanke is delicious as the conniving and inept Bud Frump. Tammy Blanchard is marvelous as Biggley’s hotsy-totsy mistress who worms her way into the steno pool thanks to nepotism. Ms. Blanchard can get a laugh simply by moving a single facial muscle. Ellen Harvey is commanding as Biggley’s brassy secretary, Ms. Jones.
Derek McLane has designed a magnificent honeycomb inspired set that sparkles, Catherine Zuber’s pastel-colored costumes are gorgeous and Doug Besterman’s orchestrations give the score a fresh new sound.
The real star of this show though is Mr. Ashford’s regimented choreography. The original 1961 production had musical staging by Bob Fosse. Mr. Ashford has not recreated Mr. Fosse’s choreography but he is seemingly channeling him with every wrist-snap and hip pop. “Coffee Break” and “Grand Old Ivy” are show-stoppers.
While Daniel Radcliffe may not be able to match Robert Morse, the original J. Pierrepont Finch, he holds his own and shows the promise of having staying power on Broadway. I look forward to watching the career of this talented young man.