Glasgow Music Theatre really are a class apart: a happy hybrid of professional and trained performers and talented amateurs, each production team, from creative to performer, is built from scratch with the best talent on offer for each show – and boy does it show.
It’s hard to overstate the quality of GMT’s output: their fearless artistic choices and innovative ideas are supported by excellent execution. Their latest offering is the little seen How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert’s take on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 satirical self-help book of the same name. Described in the publicity material as Guys and Dolls meets Mad Men it has familiar echoes of both.
It’s the early 60’s, armed with a ‘How to’ book, a bright, young window cleaner J. Pierrepont Finch, that’s F.I.N.C.H. as he likes to remind us, embarks on an ambitious climb to the top of the corporate ladder. With much manipulation and mischief he manages to get to the top of the tree with alarming speed. Genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and full of innocent charm, this is a joyous piece of escapist entertainment bordering on the surreally silly at times. With tunes such as “A Secretary is not a Toy”, “Brotherhood of Man” and the hysterical “Old Ivy” it’s impossible not to be thoroughly charmed by the whole endeavour. The action cracks along at great speed and there’s so much to catch the eye that the audience’s attention never wavers.
In a cast so talented it seems churlish to single out any particular performers for praise but there are some real stand-outs here: Neil Campbell as our (anti) hero Finch, Steven Dalziel (Bud Frump) and Johnny Collins (J.B. Biggley) are supremely talented and light up the stage at every entrance. The only weak link in the chain is Kelly Johnston as love-interest Rosemary Pilkington who struggles with keeping to the melody at times and has an air of immaturity about her performance, unfortunately highlighted by the supreme quality of the rest of the main cast and ensemble.
This is a real treat – innocent, exuberant, good old-fashioned fun for all.
For more information about GMT visit: www.glasgowmusictheatre.co.uk
Photography by Abbie Mead and Colin Johnston