SWEET & CUTE 'NICE WORK': (center) Matthew Broderick & Robyn Hurder with the ensemble of 'Nice Work If You Can Get It.' Photo: Joan Marcus
'NICE WORK' SOMETIMES 'GETS IT': (left to right) Matthew Broderick, Robyn Hurder & ladies of the ensemble of 'Nice Work.' Photo: Joan Marcus
A BOOTLEGGER & A PLAYBOY: (left to right) Kelli O'Hara & Matthew Broderick in 'Nice Work If You Can Get It.' Photo: Joan Marcus
Theater Review Nice Work cute, but never quite 'gets it'
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT Inspired by material by Guy Bolton and P. G. Woodhouse Book by Joe DiPietro Music & Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin Directed & choreographed by Kathleen Marshall Imperial Theatre 249 West 45th Street (212-239-6200), www.NiceWorkOnBroadway.com
By David NouNou
Is sweet and cute enough to ride the Broadway deluge, all of which are opening in late April on Broadway, right now? The competition is stiff out there, and there are some shows that will get lost in the shuffle. Unlike Kathleen Marshall’s 2011 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, Nice Work lacks the originality and razor-sharp crispness she imbued in that show, especially in the choreography department. This show looks like it has run out of steam from the get-go and is just pieced together with Gershwin songs. It is as if they took random songs and interspersed them throughout the show. The book has some humor injected by Joe DiPietro. However, both the direction and choreography are uninspired.
Set in New York and the Hamptons, and loosely based on the Gershwins’ musical Oh, Kay, the plot centers on handsome, filthy rich, and never-worked-a-day-in-his-life Jimmy Winter (Matthew Broderick) on his last night of bachelorhood, for tomorrow he will be marrying Eileen Evergreen (Jennifer Laura Thompson), daughter of Senator Evergreen (Terry Beaver), and his fourth wife-to-be. However, tonight in his drunken stupor, he will run into Billie Bendix (Kelli O’Hara), a bootlegger with a prison record (after all, this is 1927 in the Prohibition era), outside the saloon, where an instant attraction develops. Oh, how simple and undemanding the plots of 1920s musicals were.
I honestly couldn’t tell if Matthew Broderick was tired at the preview performance I attended. After all, it was Saturday night, the end of the week, or he was just uncomfortable on the stage? I haven’t seen someone so uncomfortable since Harry Connick in last winter’s On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. He is still youthful looking and charming but lacks chemistry with any of his fellow actors, especially the leading lady, Kelli O’Hara. She is a dream as usual, with her lovely voice and acting ability; she has finally developed her persona to command a stage and have her presence felt. Imagine the possibilities had the part of Jimmy been played by Neil Patrick Harris or Matthew Morrison. The chemistry with either one would have erased a lot of the flaws that are obvious in the show now.
The standouts in the supporting cast are Michael McGrath, who always brings humor and versatility to all his roles; Estelle Parsons in too-brief a role; and Judy Kaye, with her imposing presence and booming voice.
Even the visual concepts of the show are unmemorable: Be it the sets by Derek McLane or the costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, they both have a used look to them, as if they have been transported from another show. Even the score by the Gershwins, which should be a standout, just comes across as ho-hum, and nothing is staged vibrantly. Any pleasure that is derived from the show is, in large part, due to the personality and humor of the cast and not necessarily by the creative teams.
Edited by Scott Harrah Published April 24, 2012 Reviewed at press preview performance on April 21, 2012