Ira and George Gershwin are the rare pair of musicians who can posthumously launch a Broadway hit.
“Nice Work If You Can Get It,” at the Imperial Theatre in an open run, is a brand-new old musical, reworked by Joe DiPietro (2010 Tony for “Memphis”.) DiPietro’s script was inspired by material from Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse who collaborated on the book for the Gershwin’s 1926 “Oh, Kay!”
In “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” Matthew Broderick plays the endearingly inept Jimmy Winter, a playboy on the verge of his fourth marriage. Kelli O’Hara is the tom-boyish bootlegger Billie Bendix.
(To see videos from the musical, click here.) With the police, in the person of Stanley Wayne Mathis as Chief Berry, and Senator Max Evergreen (Terry Beaver) with his prohibitionist sister, Duchess Estonia Dulworth (Judy Kaye) on their trail, Billie and her crew, Cookie McGee (Michael McGrath) and Duke Mahoney (Chris Sullivan) need a place to stash 400 cases of contraband booze. Jimmy’s seldon used Long Island mansion has a cellar that looks to be the perfect spot.
Joe DiPietro toys with the romantic comedy formula so that the expected happy endings offer some neat surprises. And even when you see it coming, the plot is bolstered by a tune aptly plucked from the rich Gershwin canon. “Nice Work…’ is completely adorable. Matthew Broderick’s guileless charm makes you feel at home in Jimmy’s “Ritzy Beach House.”
Kelli O’Hara, last seen as Nellie Forbush in
, is a big talent with a lovely voice and a natural ease on stage. Broderick’s pleasant voice is buoyed by his castmates, many of whom give superb performances.
The gypsies, dancing and singing in support of the main characters, under the direction and with choreography by Kathleen Marshall, are all excellent. The jazz era costumes by Martin Pakledinaz are resplendent and colorful.
Estelle Parsons is very funny in a near-cameo as Jimmy’s mother Millicent Winter. Robyn Hurder is delightful as Jeannie Muldoon, the chorus girl who longs to be the queen of England. Other outstanding members of the large ensemble cast are Michael McGrath whose gangster character goes undercover as the butler. Judy Kaye exercises her full range of voice and comedic skills, and some acrobatics, as the teetotalling Duchess Estonia.
“Nice Work If You Can Get It” …”and you can get it, if you try.”
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