Published on May 25th, 2012 | by Louis0
The Old Is New Again: Nice Work If You Can Get It
Today, we’re looking at one of the newest arrivals on the Broadway stage, that is already turning heads, having picked up 10 Tony nominations and a slew of other awards. Featuring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara in Kathleen Marshall’s prohibition-era musical comedy, Nice Work If You Can Get It is an enjoyable blend of classic Gershwin music, quick one-liners and Broadway kitsch. While it lacks the energy, brash boldness and out-of-the-park dance numbers that defined Anything Goes, Marshall’s previous outing, the show offers two and a half hours of pleasant entertainment and is certainly worth the price of the entry ticket.
Broderick plays that good-humored and droll role we’re all by now very familiar with and delivers a subdued but likeable performance as a rich playboy about to get married. O’Hara brings a fantastic voice and plenty of sass, including a few scenes with a decent cockney accent, to a bootlegging love interest that creates a magnetic, if not sizzling, lead couple for the show. Show-stealing turns by Michael McGrath and Judy Kaye (the songs ‘By Strauss’ and ‘Sweet and Lowdown’ are highlights) add depth to a plot which Broderick and O’Hara meander rather than march through, and a powerful late cameo by Estelle Parsons means that the lack of a bold dance number in the finale can be forgiven.
The show is lavish in set design and costumes, but Marshall has gone for a tight and measured choreography and you almost feel that it was toned down for the sake of the actors as both leads, particularly Broderick, seem to be at their dancing limit. The dance duet typifies this, and you leave the theater almost wishing they’d tried harder to put some more ambitious moves on, but believing that they would have fallen over if they’d tried. The company numbers are likewise elegant but muted and there isn’t a tap shoe in sight; anyone wishing for a reprise of Anything Goes’ tap-laden never-ending giddy-dizzy dance numbers will be disappointed. The music is taken from and inspired by the works of George and Ira Gershwin and fill the theater with an upbeat old-Broadway era feel. The songs and lyrics may not be immediately memorable, but the experience is nonetheless delightfully positive and complements the stage activities well.
Ultimately, Nice Work is a welcome addition to the Broadway scene and one highly worthy of recommendation. Taken on its own, it is a very pleasant combination of excellent theatrical ingredients in moderation, which combine to create a show that is both memorable and enjoyable. Just don’t expect it to be the natural sequel to Anything Goes. Running now at the Imperial Theater in Manhattan, with tickets priced $50 to $250, on sale through June 2. Student rush tickets are available, and the show runs around two hours and forty minutes with an intermission. Dark on Mondays.