After much internal debate, I gave in yesterday and saw Nice Work If You Can Get It. I went into it with an open mind, with most people having told me that it was a good show, a cute show, and not that bad, with only one “it was awful” from a good friend. The cast was top-notch: Matthew Broderick, Kelli O’Hara, Judy Kaye, Jennifer Laura Thompson, and Estelle Parsons comprised a majority of the leads. George and Ira Gershwin are American legends, so I knew what the music was going into it. The only thing I didn’t know was the plot.
I was so terribly bored during the first act. The plot (boy meets girl, they fall for each other, but the boy is already married, and the girl is a con artist) was thin and most of the songs chosen to flesh it out barely moved the plot forward at all. The second act was unquestionably better though, though I can’t pinpoint why. I think it was because I liked the the wrap-up of who everyone was. Also: Judy Kaye gets “drunk” and sings while swinging from a chandelier.
The choreography was very good (though I still think Newsies’ and Evita’s were better) and the company was fantastic. Broderick can still sing and dance with ease, but his acting was phoned in (though it’s not like his character was complex or well-written enough to need any depth). O’Hara sings well and acts her slightly better written character convincingly, but she does better when she’s given better material to work with. Kaye was entertaining in her role and if it weren’t for her easy competition for the TONY this year, I don’t think she’d be a shoe in. But considering that her competition is the star of a show that no one saw and a violinist with two lines, among others, she probably has this one in the bag. Thompson played her usual character that she plays in every show she is cast in (though she does it well), and Parsons is entertaining in her small role. My personal favorite was Chris Sullivan, as Duke Mahoney, a bootlegger. He was vocally talented, and also endearing.
Nice Work will run for a while because of the cast and also because of the baby boomer generation that loves the Gershwins. It has it’s moments, but even with an open mind, it couldn’t win me over.