Nice Work If You Can Get It Top Musical for 2012

4.173532

Matthew Broderick’s star rose into the stratosphere after staring in the title role of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  He played a devil-may-care playboy that could do no wrong.  Decades later, that character still fits him like a long leather glove on Carrie Bradshaw’s arm, and when you add the absolutely scrumptious music and lyrics of Gershwin you have achieve Broadway Gold.  Nice Work If You Can Get It is a musical done the right way.  It personified the phrase, “If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.”

To view F.A.M.E NYC Editor’s review of Nice Work If You Can Get It, click http://famenycmagazine.com/2012/04/30/gershwinbroderickwho-could-ask-for-anything-more/.

Gershwin…Broderick…Who Could Ask For Anything More?

 

My first aural introduction to the work of George Gershwin was courtesy of TWA.  His “Rhapsody in Blue” was the soundtrack for their commercial campaign for many years and filled my ears with an explosion of breathtaking sound.  My first introduction to the Gershwin brothers was through An American in Paris.  Again, I fell down into a chasm of musical bliss – and why wouldn’t I – the Gershwin brother’s music and lyrics helped to ink the blueprint of the American standard song.  Everyone, from Ella Fitzgerald to Fred Astaire, has performed their music.   Hollywood and Broadway have been defined by their sound; after all, they have created some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.

In January, Porgy and Bess, George Gershwin’s last theatrical work, was revived on Broadway.  While the all African American opera is certainly the Gershwin brother’s most controversial work, some of their more popular songs have manifested in the form of a brand new musical with old-school flair.  Nice Work If You Can Get It premiered at the Imperial Theatre, located at 249 West 45th Street, last week and it is a rhapsody in laughter. 

Nice Work If You Can Get It is a zany romantic musical set in New York City during the Prohibition era.  It centers on the unconventional, kooky love affair between Jimmy Winter, a wealthy playboy, and Billie Bendix, a hard nose bootlegger.  After leaving a his bachelor party for his fourth upcoming marriage, a saucy Jimmy runs into Billie, who is laying low from the feds while trying to protect her new shipment of booze.  As he attempts to make a pass at her, Jimmy reveals to Billie that he has an enormous estate in Long Island that his family never uses.  Billie and bumbling cohorts Cookie and Duke concoct the idea of storing the demon gin in the cellar of the mansion and the hijinks start from there.  Over a weekend Billie, Cookie, Duke, Jimmy, his icy betrothed Eileen, Eileen’s conservative senator father, his uptight sister, her G-men, a troupe of chorus girls, a police chief and even Jimmy’s mother all converge on the property creating a hilarious adventure by the melody of Gershwin.

Writer John O’Hara once stated, “George Gershwin died on July 11, 1937, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.”   And after viewing this musical, I don’t believe it either.  The presence of both George and Ira Gershwin were more teeming than ever courtesy of this productionAs with any musical, the music and lyrics are the thing.   And this musical couldn’t have a better foundation.  The book pushes the production along; it is structure that is balanced on the music.  Joe DiPietro created one hell of a comedic story to go along with the blah-blah-blah-blithe musical numbers.  Derek McLane’s lavish set is extremely complimentary to the time period in which the musical takes place and director Kathleen Marshall’s choreography made me want to do the Charleston in my seat.

Ever since I saw Matthew Broderick pull one over on his parents and Dean Edward Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I knew he could never do anything wrong with me.  And his choices on screen and on stage have made me stand by that statement.  It’s been over 20 years since Broderick lip-synced to The Beatles and his boyish looks and charm can still convince an audience to buy whatever he is selling.  Watching him on stage can fill any theater with joy.  Kelli O’Hara is delightful.  She and Broderick have great chemistry.  Chris Sullivan gives a spot-on performance as dimwitted Duke Mahoney – Forrest Gump has nothing on him.  Judy Kaye is a pleasure to watch as Duchess Estonia Dulworth, and the rest of the cast provide fascinating rhythm. But if Broadway gave out awards for breakout performances, my vote would go to Michael McGrath.  As Cookie McGee, he gives some of the best zingers of the show.  He is more than just the comic relief, he is the comic godsend.

Nice Work If You Can Get It is more delicious than a slice of Junior’s cheesecake.  I could devour it and ask for seconds.  Call me old-school but musicals always showcase the best of what is great about Broadway and harkens back to a time when Hollywood produced royalty.  When a musical hits the mark, it is an undeniable bulls-eye.  During the April 24 red carpet premiere, Sarah Jessica Parker suggested that audiences should, “run; don’t walk” to see this show.  Now perhaps her assessment of this production could be biased since she is married to its star, but in this case I’m in total accord with Mrs. Broderick.  Nice Work If You Can Get It is absolutely the cat’s meow.  It’s fun, fun and more fun – the quintessential American musical done right. 

65th Annual Tony Award Nominations Have Been Announced

Today Whoopi Goldberg and her sisters have plenty to celebrate, Harry Potter and Dan Lauria were snubbed and theatre legend Patti LuPone is on the verge of another victory.  If you did not catch the hint, the nominations for the 2011 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards were announced this morning.  Tony Award winners Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose hosted the event, which were held at The New York Public Library for Performing Arts.  There are 26 competitive categories that were announced.  Below are the nominations for the major awards, but if you want to view the announcement in its entirety, go to http://www.tonyawards.com.

Best Play

Good People, Jerusalem, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, War Horse

Best Musical

The Book of Mormon, Catch Me If You Can, The Scottsboro Boys, Sister Act

Best Revival of a Play

Arcadia, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Merchant of Venice, The Normal Heart

Best Revival of a Musical

Anything Goes, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest

Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart

Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice

Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday

Frances McDormand, Good People

Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice

Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy

Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can

Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon

Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys

Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon

Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Sutton Foster, Anything Goes

Beth Leavel, Baby It’s You!

Patina Miller, Sister Act

Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem

Billy Crudup, Arcadia

John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart

Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Yul Vázquez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart

Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves

Judith Light, Lombardi

Joanna Lumley, La Bête

Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys

Adam Godley, Anything Goes

John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys

Rory O’Malley, The Book of Mormon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Victoria Clark, Sister Act

Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon

Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

 Photo:  J. Countess/WireImage.com