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all nice-work-if-you-get-it

Published on May 25th, 2012 | by Louis

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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.

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