There were plenty of laughs and cheers on the opening night of The Production Company’s Nice Work If You Can Get It at Art Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre.
It’s easy to see why. This is one of those truly fun shows where it’s near impossible not to laugh out loud especially at the slapstick scenes. The acting is excellent, the music great, the choreography stunning and the costumes stylish.
Set in the 1920s during the Prohibition era, Nice Work If You Can Get It is the story of a charming, wealthy playboy, Jimmy Winter (Rohan Browne), who meets rough, tough female bootlegger, Billie Bendix (Esther Hannaford) on the weekend of his wedding. Jimmy, who has been married several times before, is preparing to marry Eileen Evergreen (Christie Whelan Browne), a self-obsessed modern dancer.
Thinking the basement of Jimmy’s Long Island mansion will be empty as a result of his wedding, Billie and her gang including Cookie McGee (George Kapiniaris) hatch a plan to hide cases of alcohol there. But when Jimmy, Eileen, her father Senator Max Evergreen (John Wood), and his sister and temperance movement leader Estonia Dulworth, the Duchess of Woodford (Gina Riley), show up at the mansion for the wedding, chaos ensues as the bootleggers disguise themselves as servants.
Particularly enjoyable to watch were the comic talents of Gina Riley and George Kapiniaris as well as Christie Whelan Browne – whose actions as `the finest interpreter of modern dance in the world’ were extremely funny. Nicki Wendt’s small but important role as Jimmy’s mother Millicent Winter, was also most humorous.
Leads Rohan Browne and Esther Hannaford impressed with both their singing and dancing. Most importantly, for such a light hearted and fun show, all cast members looked as if they were enjoying themselves.
Despite being set in the 1920’s much of the dialogue is relevant today, especially when it comes to politicians!
First performed on Broadway in April 2012, Nice Work If You Can Get It was created by Joe Di Pietro. He used the bones of a successful 1920s musical, Oh Kay, a Prohibition era romp written by P.G. Wodehouse and then created this new musical with songs from George and Ira Gershwin.
While some of those songs are not so well known, others are favourites including Nice Work If You can Get It, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, Someone to Watch Over Me, ‘S Wonderful and Fascinating Rhythm.
The show’s colorful big production numbers were brilliantly choreographed and executed by the leads and 12 member chorus.
All in all, Nice Work If You Can Get It is extremely entertaining and you’re more than likely to leave the theatre with a smile.
*Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Nice Work If You Can Get It as a guest of The Production Company. All photographs taken by Chris Parker.
- live shows, Melbourne
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