With Nick Jonas set for a five-month toplining gig in the strong-selling Broadway revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” the production continues to use creative casting to keep the tuner drawing younger auds and the family crowd to a 1961 satirical musical more often slanted toward an older demo.
Jonas is sure to be a lure for the Disney Channel aud. He follows in the footsteps “How to Succeed” star Daniel Radcliffe, already pulling in enthusiastic young auds and their parents to the tuner, and upcoming replacement Darren Criss, the thesp with a high profile among teens thanks to his current role in “Glee.”
Jonas will play protag J. Pierre-pont Finch in the Frank Loesser comedy about a window-washer who makes his way up the corporate ladder with the aid of a self-help book. Like Radcliffe and Criss, the 19-year-old Jonas is younger than other thesps who have played the part: Both Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick were in their 30s when they portrayed Finch in earlier Broadway incarnations.
Producers of the current revival contend that Finch, a man just starting out in his career, would probably skew toward the younger end of the spectrum anyway. Besides, such casting helps the production catch the eye of younger auds that might not otherwise show much interest in a satire about the business world.
“It’s a residual effect of casting this way,” says producer Craig Zadan. “Everybody in the show is aged down, and as a result, your audiences are broader.”
Zadan and Neil Meron, the “Footloose” producers who also have Broadway-themed TV skein “Smash” in the works, produce “How to Succeed” with Broadway Across America (John Gore, Thomas B. McGrath, Beth Williams), the company opening Harry Connick Jr. starrer “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” on the Rialto later this fall.
It remains to be seen whether Jonas or Criss, who will appear in “How to Succeed” for three weeks in January, can log the same boffo Broadway sales as Radcliffe, whose million-dollar-plus frames can be attributed in part to the fans he’s accumulated during his years at the head of the Harry Potter screen franchise.
For his part, Jonas also has a solid fanbase that’s he already alerted to his upcoming gig. “I’ve been tweeting up a storm,” said the performer, who’s got 3.2 million followers on Twitter.
Jonas’ Broadway credits include moppet stints in “Beauty and the Beast,” “Les Miserables” and the 1999 revival of “Annie Get Your Gun.” More recently, he appeared as Marius in “Les Miz” on the West End and as Link Larkin in the recent Hollywood Bowl staging of “Hairspray.”
He begins his stint in “How to Succeed” Jan. 24. Radcliffe exits Jan. 1, with Criss filling in Jan. 3-Jan. 22.