It’s no surprise that Nice Work If You Can Get It did not win the Tony Award for Best Musical this year. It’s a silly, fun, traditional Gershwin musical (a la Crazy For You) but with little substance or even a moral attached.
The tag-line should be: “Hijinks endlessly abound.”
Literally, they are endless — never stop. Ever. No, seriously. They keep going and going and going. For real, though.
The first thing the producers should do is fire Matthew Broderick who plays the love interest Jimmy WInter. Yes, he’s probably a huge part of what’s selling the show, but I’m sorry to report, he’s terrible. His performance wasn’t even salvageable. The dance between Kelli O’Hara (Billie Bendix) and Matthew Broderick at the end of the first act was one of the worst dance breaks that I’ve ever seen on the Broadway stage. It was a brilliant dance arrangement by the 18-piece orchestra, but it was so painful to watch. Even the music that Broderick sang fell flat and almost unlistenable. I was very unimpressed.
That said, everyone else in the cast was fantastic! I absolutely loved Kelli O’Hara. She’s gorgeous, sings beautifully and has no problem carrying a show even though her leading man is a complete dud. Kudos to her!
Judy Kaye played Duchess Estonia Dulworth with utter perfection. She enters and sings “Demon Run” at the beginning of Act 1 and then you don’t really see her again until the beginning of Act 2. Her presence in Act 2, alongside Tony winning Michael McGrath (Cookie McGee), made Act 2 much more enjoyable than Act 1. The second half clipped along at a very fast and humorous pace because of these two performer’s perfect comedic timing. They play off of each other hysterically and are the best part of the show. Hands down!
I’ve been in love with Jennifer Laura Thompson (Eileen Evergreen) since I saw her as Hope in Urinetown. I also got a chance to see her as Glinda in Wicked and still to this day I think that she’s the best Glinda I’ve ever seen. I wish that her character in Nice Work If You Can Get It had more to work with, because the role itself was a bit lacking. She was fantastic (as usual), but I missed seeing her as a leading lady.
The music from George and Ira Gershwin’s catalog is some of my favorite music in the musical theatre canon. Backed up with a 18-year piece orchestra, it makes for a beautiful evening of lush Gershwin classics. (Almost worth the price of admission alone.) Some of my favorite songs include: “But Not For Me” sung by Kelli O’Hara, and “Blah, Blah, Blah” sung by Chris Sullivan (Duke Mahoney) and Robyn Hurder (Jeannie Muldoon). I’m looking forward to hearing the cast recording.
The entire time I was watching the show, I kept thinking, “This will be the perfect high school musical.” It’s a wonderful family-friendly show that has incredible music and super fun dancing. There’s a slew of supporting characters that would showcase half of the school and if Matthew Broderick can pull off the leading role, then most high schoolers across the country will do just fine!
Overall, if you are looking for a “classic-styled” Broadway show that’s great for all ages, then this is the show for you. Don’t expect that they are re-inventing the wheel with this show, in reality, they are continuing the tradition of musical comedy in its finest form.