Theater Review: 'Nice Work If You Can Get It' -- 3.5 stars
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Matthew Broderick, who hasn't enjoyed much success on Broadway since "The Producers" a decade ago, manages to redeem himself in "Nice Work If You Can Get It," a "new" Gershwin musical also starring Kelli O'Hara and other stage veterans who bring down the house in supporting comedic roles.
Just like "Crazy for You," "Nice Work You Can Get It" is a thorough reworking of a rarely seen musical comedy with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by his brother Ira, namely 1926's "Oh, Kay!" Not only has its Prohibition-era plot been altered, most of its score is lifted from other shows.
Jimmy (Broderick), a clueless but handsome bachelor, meets Billie (O'Hara), a no-nonsense bootlegger, just before his wedding to the pampered, somewhat crazed Eileen (Jennifer Laura Thompson).
Under the belief that Jimmy never uses his family's Long Island mansion, Billie decides to hide her stash of liquor there. When the pair unexpectedly meets again, they quickly fall for each other, leading to unending farcical complications and mistaken identities.
While Kathleen Marshall's crowd-pleasing production lacks the inspired showstopper choreography of her revival of "Anything Goes," it makes for nonstop giddy fun thanks to its dynamic cast, Joe DiPietro's wickedly funny dialogue and a treasure trove of timeless Gershwin favorites and rarities.
At first, Broderick seems ill at ease, especially while dancing. But soon enough he wins over the audience with his charm and thin but pleasant singing voice.
O'Hara, best remembered as Nellie Forbush in the "South Pacific" revival, proves that she can also sparkle in a silly comedy.
Her finest moments occur as she sings the classic ballad "Someone to Watch Over Me" while brandishing a rifle and, later on, pouring hot soup all over Broderick's lap while playing the part of a Cockney maid.
Other standouts include Michael McGrath, whose performance as Billie's wise guy criminal cohort brings to mind Chico Marx, and Judy Kaye as a staunch prohibitionist who lets loose once she unknowingly imbibes alcohol.
If you go: "Nice Work if You Can Get It" plays an open run at the Imperial Theatre. 249 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, niceworkonbroadway.com.