It’s the Roaring Twenties and a cast of outrageous characters gather in New York to celebrate the wedding of wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter.
February 10-15, 2015 at the Schuster
I may not be Catholic (I do like their fish fry’s), but I have a confession to make…my expectations for “Nice Work If You Can Get It” weren’t very high. I feared the unknown. I’m a self-proclaimed theatre critic, who sees more musicals than movies …heck, the only movie I’ve been to this year was a musical (Into the Woods), so how good could a show I’ve never heard of possibly be? The answer is…Superbly Excellent. All my pre-conceived notions about “Nice Work If You Can Get It” were wrong, as I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and I now regard it as one of my all-time favorite musicals.
Many musicals contain some moments of laughter, often a character who provides comic relief, but “Nice Work…” provides a steady stream of hilarity. It’s like 40 years of comedy from “Saturday Night Live” (minus the Chris Farley era) crammed into one show, including some on target political humor. In addition to a bundle of laughs, “Nice Work…” also features captivating plot twists, dazzling dance moves, impressive scenery and some classic songs. Plus, in the center of it all is a heartwarming love story.
Set in the 1920’s, we meet Jimmy Winter (Alex Enterline), a wealthy playboy who’s preparing for his fourth marriage. A wrench is thrown into his plans when he runs into Billie Bendix (Mariah MacFarlane), an esteemed bootlegger, who makes him drunk in love. The real hilarity ensues when Billie and her crew hides their stash of alcohol, and themselves from the feds, in Jimmy’s “never used” beach house. Their plan is thwarted after Jimmy and his pending bride, strictly for financial security, Eileen (Rachael Scarr) arrive for a visit. It leaves Jimmy trapped in the house with the expectant bride and his true love, Billie, all while also having to keep the feds away. Will he follow his heart or love for the money down the aisle? And will an arrest be made for the bootlegging? Trust me, it will be boring if I give the answer. You have to witness the hysterical maze of happenings to find out for yourself.
The chemistry that Enterline and MacFarlane share in the lead roles are like gin and tonic, a combination that is bound to make you feel good. They leave you wanting more and more. Their voices are also a perfect blend together, if their singing of the title song and of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” was a drink, I’d be passed out from inebriation. Enterline is masterful as Jimmy with pitch perfect comedic timing and clearly portrays the conflict within the characters heart. Trust me, there is nothing wrong with MacFarlane’s shoulder, or any other part of her as Billie. The role requires a lot of versatility as she goes from a tomboy to a vixen, including having to wear a maid costume. She must also do some physical comedy, particularly during “Treat Me Rough,” where she makes the bed her own personal jungle gym. All through the show, MacFarlane shows more than 50 Shades of talent.
If scene stealing was a crime then Reed Campbell (Cookie) would surely be convicted, even by the jury from the O.J trial. He’s totally delightful as Billie’s helper in bootlegging who is forced to act as the butler at the fully inhabited beach house. It’s not only the golden lines that makes Campbell shine, but also his exuberant facial expressions. From our seats in the upper level of the theater, Campbell spoke to us, without even saying a word. Though Cookie’s skills as a butler are debatable, he does serve up a healthy dose a laughter. Whenever the opportunity for a punchline knocks, he answers.
The entire cast is very strong in their supporting roles as there is never a dull moment. Each character has their own distinct personality and quirks. There is Duke (Aaron Fried) who cooks himself up a royal mess with Jeannie (Stephanie Gandolfo). There’s much to say about Jeannie, but I’m running long so, blah, blah, blah…she is beautiful. Furthermore the Duchess Estonia Dulworth (Stephanie Harter Gilmore) scores the nights biggest laughs when her lemonade gets spiked and all her manners begin to unravel.
He’s straight laced for most of the show, but towards the end Senator Max Evergreen (Benjamin Perez) releases some zingers and if nothing else Chief Barry (Thomas Schario) captures some laughs as the inept officer. The ensemble also provides some high energy dance moves that are highly entertaining.
In addition to all the stellar performances, “Nice Work…” also benefits from the inclusion of some beloved songs. The music is written by George and Ira Gershwin, who even Kanye West would have to admit are worthy of accolades. In addition to the already mentioned “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” and “Nice Work…” some of the other songs are “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “I’ve Got a Crush on You.” Another musical highlight is Scarr’s rendition of “Delishious,” when she shows off her vocal pipes and a little more while bathing. The scene will leave you dripping with envy.
I’m willing to wager that there are people (Yes, I’m talking to you), who are avoiding “Nice Work..” because they aren’t familiar with it. The unknown can be scary. It’s kind of like a blind date. A date with “Nice Work…” is like meeting the love of your life. You lose track of time as hours seem like minutes and you never want it to end. That’s how I felt during “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” Don’t miss the chance to discover a new love, appropriately enough, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“Nice Work If You Can Get It,” continues through February 15 at the Schuster Center. Tickets are available by calling (937) 228-3630 or toll free at (888) 228-3630 or buy tickets online.
It’s the Roaring Twenties and a cast of outrageous characters gather in New York to celebrate the wedding of wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter. But things don’t go as planned when the playboy meets Billie Bendix, a bubbly and feisty bootlegger who melts his heart. The champagne flows and the gin fizzes in the hilarious, Tony®-winning musical comedy NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT.
Read Mike Woody's Behind The Scenes interview with Alex Enterline, who plays Jimmy Winter.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.
Win a romantic Valentine's Day date for you and your sweetheart! Two tickets to "NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT" plus a $50 gift card toward a romantic dinner before the show at Citilites Restaurant. ************* 2/5/15 Winner has been chosen, but will remain anonymous so he can surprise his wife :) Thanks for entering everyone!
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