The Bushnell, Hartford CT
through February 8, 2015
by Sharon Smith
“Nice Work If You Can Get It” marks a homecoming for the musical, which traces its origins to the Goodspeed Opera House down the road in East Haddam. The show went through many changes on the journey from CT, to Broadway, to Tony winner, and back again, but in all incarnations the heart and appeal lies in the classic music of George and Ira Gershwin.
|Photo by Jeremy Daniel|
In the madcap world of 1927 Prohibition, bootleggers, high society types, and a bevy of chorus girls collide in a mix of romance, mistaken identities, and slapstick high-jinx. This is the type of light and frothy story that finds gangsters posing as butlers and the vice squad partakes in more vices then it foils.
Mariah MacFarlane as rum-runner Billie Bendix is a splendid talent, with a strong voice and crack timing. It takes such a balance to sing “Someone to Watch Over Me” while holding a shotgun. A supporting cast of star-crossed lovers is top notch. Highlights include Aaron Fried and Stephanie Gandolfo’s, “Do It Again” and “Blah, Blah Blah.” Reed Campbell and Stephanie Harter Gilmore’s, “Looking for a Boy” is also a stand out, sung as it is from a swinging chandelier. In addition to “Looking” the choreography delights throughout, with the bathtub based “Delishious” yielding a bubbly surprise.
Any “new” Gershwin musical is sure to invoke comparison to 1992’s “Crazy For You” and while “Nice” may not have the rock-solid book of that show, it does have exciting choreography, delightful performances and the kind of exuberance that can make any audience temporarily forget the chilly weather outside.