John Stamos — for eight seasons Jesse on the popular ABC sitcom “Full House”– has replaced Matthew Broderick as that ladder-climber nonpareil, J. Pierrepont Finch, in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” The occasion officially marks Stamos’ Broadway debut, but more likely it’s his legit debut, as well: At the performance caught, the likable but charm-free actor had severe pitch problems that rendered most of his numbers unlistenable — especially at the top decibel level Broadway musicals pitch themselves at these days.
Having no discernible stage presence of his own, Stamos has mostly locked himself into a replication of Broderick’s moves, and tends to look uncomfortable doing so. He can’t match Broderick’s amazing comic timing, particularly in a number like “Grand Old Ivy,” where Stamos doesn’t even give it the college try. He’s at best a bantamweight, and has no business carrying a Broadway show.
On the other hand, William Ryall, temporarily replacing Ron Carroll as J.B. Biggley, is no widget. While the pudgy Carroll plays a pleasant buffoon, the more angular Ryall is made of sterner stuff, and it’s a nice change. Otherwise, this extremely enjoyable revival remains in pretty good shape.