Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Nice Work If You Can Get It
From the sound of it, Nice Work If You Can Get It is setting itself up from failure: classic Gershwin songs harshly bolted onto a Prohibition-era farce that's adapted by Joe DiPietro from work by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. Confidence is inspired by director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall, fresh off of Anything Goes, and her leading lady, the do-anything Kelli O'Hara, but there's still that disclaimer-like "if" haunting the title. Rest assured, however, that the result of this "new" musical is nice work -- actually, pretty damn wonderful work. DiPietro has as firm yet playful hand here as he did with Memphis, the songs are more than merely soldered on -- they're actually often comically playing against the original context -- and David Chase's arrangements are terrific (see the dueling "By Strauss" and "Sweet and Lowdown"), and Marshall's direction is quick, lively, and above all, fun, with lots of storytelling stuffed into the extended dance sequences.
The single rough patch rests in this entire affair rests on Matthew Broderick's weary shoulders: he looks bored to be playing yet another variation on Leo Bloom -- he's now a rich simpleton -- and his arms are so stiff that it appears he's trying to bring planking to Broadway, particularly in comparison to full-bodied performers like Michael McGrath, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Robyn Hurder, Chris Sullivan, and Judy Kaye.... I don't ordinarily fall head-over-heels for such airy entertainment -- especially not two-and-half-hours worth -- but Nice Work If You Can Get It has me humming away on cloud nine. Perhaps it's hard to get work these days; at least this musical's making it easy to play.
(Press ticket; N105)