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You are here: Home Theatre Reviews & Features 2011-12 Reviews Broadway Review: NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 20:51


Written by 
Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Broderick Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Broderick Photo: Joan Marcus

Nice Work If You Can Get It, the latest "new" musical with music derived from the trunk of the brothers Gershwin, George and Ira,  is a standout among this season's musical entries; nothing beats it for sheer unadulterated escapism.   It also happens to sport two of the funniest performances of the season, they are from Michael McGrath and Judy Kaye, both nominated for Tony Awards for their performances (my prediction is that both will win.)   He’s a booze running gangster with a tinge of Three Stooges.  She’s a staunch prohibitionist (à la Carrie Nation), that is until she inadvertently becomes inebriated and swings from the chandelier, I mean literally.  It will have you rolling in the aisle.

Under the steady and artful hand of director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall, this musical keeps you laughing and tapping your toe. The witty book is by Joe DiPietro (with a little inspiration from Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse) who is also a Tony nominee this year. The show in general could have 10-15 minutes cut fromt it; at two hours and forty minutes, it's a tad long.

Nice Work If You Can Get It stars Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara as a rich tycoon and an unlikely bootlegger who find love together.  Broderick gives a performance as Jimmy that uses his stock-in-trade, boyish charm with a hint of sad-sack mama's boy.  He's light on his feet but I wouldn't call his performance snappy.   His movement is inhibited by his damp-blanket character.  I’m also comparing, and probably unfairly so, his performance to Tommy Tune's performance from another Gershwin composite musical of almost thirty years ago, My One and Only (on which "yours truly" worked as the stage door manager for a week in 1983.)  Tune had a sparkle that Broderick’s character doesn’t have, particularly when he danced.    

Ms. O'Hara's "Billie" is charming  and her vocals are gorgeous.  Whether its the torch song "Someone to Watch Over Me" or the lilting "Hangin' Around With You," Ms. O'Hara rendered them beautifully.  She plays well off Broderick and their dancing together is flawless. She has been nominated for a Tony Award for her performance.  I simply adore her.

The evening I saw the performance, Estelle Parsons who plays Jimmy’s domineering mother was not in the show.  Her understudy, Jennifer Smith, admirably went on in her stead.

Derek McClane's set is simple and elegant.  The costume design by Martin Packledinaz is simply stunning and deserves the Tony Award nomination it got.  Peter Kaczorowski (one of my favorite lighting designers) smartly enhances McClane's and Packledinaz's work.  

If those aren't enough reasons to go see this good time musical, did I happen to mention that it has an orchestra with nearly 20 members (ah how I long for the days of the 35-piece orchestra).  Arranged by, and under the musical supervision of David Chase, these Gershwin songs have new life in them.  

If you live outside of New York and are feeling bad about not being able to get to New York to see it, rest easy.  The show will be headed out on a national tour in the fall of 2013.  There is also a cast album coming.

Additional Info

  • Show Style: Musical
Last modified on Thursday, 09 July 2015 03:22