Nice Work: Review Roundup

Nice Work

Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Broderick in Nice Work

The reviews for Nice Work If You Can Get It, the Gershwin pastiche musical inspired by Oh, Kay!, have been mixed but more favorable than not. Below is a sampling. For the record, the creative team is Joe DiPietro (book), Ira Gershwin (lyrics), George Gershwin (music), Kathleen Marshall (direction and choreography), Derek McLane (sets), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (lights), Brian Ronan (sound), Paul Huntley (hair), Angelina Avallone (makeup), Alexander V. Nichols (projections).

The cast includes Matthew Broderick (Jimmy), Kelli O’Hara (Billie), Michael McGrath (Cookie), Jennifer Laura Thompson (Eileen), Chris Sullivan (Duke), Robyn Hurder (Jeannie), Stanley Wayne Mathis (Chief Berry), and Judy Kaye (Duchess).

Ben Brantley (New York Times): Every now and then, a bubble of pure, tickling charm rises from the artificial froth. … [Most] registers as a shiny, dutiful trickle of jokes and dance numbers performed by talented people who don’t entirely connect with the whimsy of a bygone genre. But then, all at once, there’s a moment of delicate ridiculousness, of utterly credible improbability. … You feel the ache of knowing that they could be so much more. … The alchemy that could elicit magic from these promising ingredients is only fitfully in evidence.

Joe Dziemianowicz (Daily News): A light-hearted romp, but unfortunately, it’s not as intoxicating as you’d hope. Yes, star turns by Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara give you a buzz. Ditto the classic George and Ira Gershwin showtunes, even though many of the songs are shoehorned in. If the show was all-singing and dancing, it could get by on charm alone. But the story by Joe DiPietro (Memphis), which closely mimics 1920s musicals, is a rusty antique knockoff, that sobers you up faster than a cup of black coffee. Why spend so much energy making something new that’s already old?

David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter): Having scored a huge success last season with Cole Porter’s 1934 musical Anything Goes, director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall follows by time-traveling back to the previous decade and dipping into the songbook of George and Ira Gershwin. The results are diverting, even if they don’t quite match the effervescence of that last excursion. Broderick is winningly paired with the luminous Kelli O’Hara (South Pacific), and the leads are backed by a string of top-notch character turns. … For Gershwin fans, Nice Work will be intoxication enough.

Howard Shapiro (Philadelphia Inquirer): Every detail in Nice Work If You Can Get It is finely tuned and beautifully turned out. … And the cast is spot-on. Is there any ingenue role in musical theater that Kelli O’Hara … couldn’t make her very own? In Nice Work, even given a stellar cast, when she’s on the stage she often is the single focus, by sheer force of her ability to sing any song fully in character, and deliver it with a striking musicality. … Nice work, for sure — and we get it, indeed.

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