NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT(National Tour Premiere)
Work Light Productions
Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Book by Joe DiPietro
Inspired by material by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse
Dallas Summer Musicals
Kathleen Marshall – Original Director and Choreographer
David Eggers – Director and Choreographer
David Chase – Music Arrangements
Charlie Reuter – Music Director
Bill Elliot – Orchestrator
Shawn Gough – Music Supervisor
Shoko Kambara – Scenic Design
Paul Toben – Lighting Design
Keith Caggiano – Sound Design
Martin Pakledinaz – Costume Design
Amy Clark – Costume Coordinator
Paul Huntley – Hair & Wig Design
ALEX ENTERLINE as Jimmy Winter
MARIAH MacFARLANE as Billie Bendix
REED CAMPBELL as Cookie McGee
AARON FRIED as Duke Mahoney
STEPHANIE GANDOLFO as Jeannie Muldoon
STEPHANIE HARTER GILMORE as Duchess Estonia Dulworth
BENJAMIN PEREZ as Senator Max Evergreen
RACHAEL SCARR as Eileen Evergreen
THOMAS SCHARIO as Chief Barry
BARBARA WEETMAN as Millicent Winter
The Chorus Girls
JESSICA BARE as Rosie
ELYSE COLLIER as Alice
KRISTINA KING as Flo
CHELSEA JANE RYAN as Olive
HEATHER STINSON as Midge
The Vice Squad
CHRISTIAN BUFFORD as Slim
NICK JONES as Elliot
KEVIN MICHAEL RAPONEY as Vic
JUSTIN SCHUMAN as Floyd
CHRIS WOODS as Fletcher
Reviewed Performance: 9/10/2014
Reviewed by Richard Blake, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The touring production of Nice Work If You Can Get It, the award-winning musical comedy that played Broadway from 2012-2013, launched its national tour with Dallas Summer Musicals at the Music Hall at Fair Park.
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 female bootlegger who melts his heart. The champagne flows and the gin fizzes in this hilarious, Tony-winning musical comedy.
This brand new musical features twenty eight of George and Ira Gershwin’s most beloved, instantly recognizable songs and orchestrations set in a fresh and funny song-and-dance spectacular with book by Tony winner Joe DiPietro (Memphis) and direction and choreography by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes). This jubilant musical is filled to the brim with classic songs, including “But Not for Me,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
The myriad of Gershwin songs are all tied together by the writing of Joe DiPietro with wonderful flair and design. I have directed and performed many of Mr. DiPietro’s work and immediately recognized the style and intent of the writing. What surprised me though is the injection of some exiting new means of character development and presentation in the story. The writing drives the storyline, completely fleshes out every character without over explanation and is seamless in tying together the songs. Every scene is entertaining, never slows the musical down and yes, has you laughing in the aisles with some perfectly derived one-liners. Mr. DiPietro has created some of the most memorable characters with personalities you will talk about well after the show ends. In fact, you may even identify with a few and laugh about it, which is exactly what every good book should do. There’s a reason Joe DiPietro is a multiple Tony winner and nominee, including for this show; it’s called sheer perfection in artistic creation!
Direction and choreography by David Eggers is flawless on both fronts in the production. He has worked with the original Broadway director, Kathleen Marshall, a multiple Tony winner and nominee herself for over a decade. It is clearly obvious all those years of working with Ms. Marshall have paid off. To begin with, the choreography is spectacular! The Roaring Twenties are exquisitely recreated in dance and movement throughout the musical. From the large full company dance numbers to fun, yet intimate couple’s dances, Mr. Eggers hits it out of the park. You can tell by the opening scene in the “speakeasy” this will be a performance you will definitely remember.
Every scene in the musical is visually captivating. Its precise and well-focused direction of every character and storyline occurs throughout the production. The “Ritzy Dining Room Scene” is a fast-paced, farce-type presentation of dialogue and song that’s extraordinarily entertaining. There’s a lot going on, but you never miss a moment of the excitement and over-the-top antics of the scene. Let’s just say, I’ll definitely never look at a chandelier the same! Bravo on a job very well done Mr. Eggers, bravo.
The presentation and precision of the music in the musical is stupendous. The creative music team of Charlie Reuter, David Chase, Bill Elliot and Shawn Gough are a force to be reckoned with. There is never a note sung out of pitch, nor overpowering orchestrations or a flawed tempo. Great attention to detail and respect is given to the beloved Gershwin music that soars with excitement and rings throughout the theatre. They’ve been given a stellar cast to work with and it is very clear everyone involved in all aspects of the music worked tirelessly to make the music shine!
Shoko Kambara’s scenic design is a visual masterpiece. Lush velvet drapes layered on top of each other, a wonderful representation of an “olio-type” drop, scrolled prosceniums inlaid with color, transparencies and decoration all tied together with opulence, elegance and depth abound in the show. Multiple locations, from a uniquely designed and exciting speakeasy done in forced perspective to the full stage height exteriors of the mansion, rooms and gardens, just take your breath away. Designed more like an opera than a musical, you are transported to various, fully dressed locations, decorated without flaw or misuse. Scene changes never slow down the production but elevate it with style while never taking focus from the story or those presenting it. You actually feel as if you’ve been transported to the elaborate productions of Broadway’s early heyday in every scene. It’s truly a magnificent presentation of a unique scenic design.
Lighting design by Paul Toben is another visual sensation. He uses rich, saturated colors that pour over the opulent set. His use of templates, color and layering give each scene its own feel and compliment the story being told. Many times, Mr. Toben subtly changes the lighting within a scene as the emotion or excitement rises. I have to say, the lighting of the drapery and elaborate design and scrollwork of the prosceniums is magnificent! Every scene at every moment is visually stunning and in some cases awe-inspiring. My guest even commented and was truly impressed by how beautiful every scene was lit. All this being said, the most wonderful thing for me was it’s all done with primarily standard theatrical instruments. No massive rigs of LED lighting or LCD video panels in this production; it’s all done the “ol’ fashioned” way with rich color mixes, focusing, geometry and style. There’s no haze in the show (I know of at least three lighting designers whose hair just stood on end with that statement) but there doesn’t need to be. This lighting design is a perfect example of actual DESIGN and not just execution. Bravo!
The costume design team of Martin Pakledinaz and Amy Clark, partnered with Paul Huntley’s hair and wig designs, add to the visual splendor in the show. It’s a period piece set and there is NEVER a mistake made in this production while representing that era...ever! The dresses are glittery, flowing, colorful and exciting on all the women and the men; I’ve never seen a zoot suit look so perfect on stage. The men’s suits, top hats and even police uniforms are era specific, highly detailed, and right on the money. There is a moment in the “Ritzy Bathroom” scene you will have to see to believe. Character Eileen gets out of the bathtub and a huge sheet of fabric “hides” her as she dances and sings with her Bubble Girls and Boys. That large, unassuming piece of fabric is then wrapped, twisted and layered in a moment of choreographed costuming perfection to create a stunning “dress” right in front of your eyes that drew applause from the audience. The costume and wig designs in this musical really make you feel as if you’re back in the era, drinking, swearing and enjoying the high life of the social elite of the period.
The cast of the show is superior in acting, vocalization and full of so much energy and excitement you are truly entertained every moment they are onstage. This cast makes the musical a hit and every member of the company is perfection!
Alex Enterline as Jimmy Winter, the rich playboy, is excellent in the role. Every one of his character choices brings great excitement and depth to the show. Playing a slightly dim-witted yet charismatic momma’s-boy, Mr. Enterline is always entertaining and his performance never lets you down. When it comes to his vocals, one word… stunning! His lovely, pure tenor voice soars to the rafters during poignant ballads yet is filled with energy and style during the more comedic songs. “Sweet and Lowdown”, the opening number of the musical, defines the vocal quality you will hear from him and keeps you on the edge of your seat anticipating the rest of the show.
Billie Bendix, played by Mariah MacFarlane, is just stunning in her role. Playing the hard-edged bootlegger that slowly comes to terms with loving the spoiled playboy seems effortless for this brilliant actress. She makes you laugh, root for her and then feel her heartbreak in ways that aren’t often seen in a female role. Vocally, there’s no praise high enough. In one of the most recognized Gershwin hits, “Someone to Watch Over Me”, Ms. MacFarlane puts so much emotion into the song, you are left stunned and overwhelmed. It is a true pleasure to watch her perform in a role that seems to have been written just for her. Brava!
Reed Campbell as Cookie McGee has to be one of the most talented character actors I’ve ever seen on stage. The only thing topping his stupendous acting chops are his vocals. You are drawn to him when he’s onstage; his comedic timing, facial expressions and line delivery are spot on every moment of the show. During “Fascinating Rhythm”, he’s pulled into a huge song and dance number in hopes of distracting the feds from his real motives. In the duet between him and the “Duchess” during “Looking for a Boy”, I was laughing so hard I was in tears, and the audience’s thunderous applause at the end showed the exquisite execution of the scene.
Duke Mahoney, played by Aaron Fried, showed his fine acting and singing skills. A physically intimidating character you realize is more of a love-lorn teddy bear as the show progresses is the perfect role for Mr. Fried. His one-liners, quick exits, entrances and facial expressions make you laugh and keep you entertained. In his shining moment with Jeannie in “Do It Again”, a hilarious duet, you will be laughing out loud and cheering him on. Mr. Fried is another highly talented actor well cast in this production.
Stephanie Harter Gilmore as the Duchess Estonia Dulworth is simply a riot in this role! Another great character actor, she portrays the righteous prohibitionist to a tee. Her comedic timing, acting and vocals never let you down. In one of the most hilarious moments of the dhow during the “Ritzy Dining Room Scene” this actress stuns you with a comedic element you will not believe. The audience roared with laughter and applauded during the song and through to the end.
Millicent Winter, played by Barbara Weetman, comes in late in the story as the matriarch of the family and blows this role out of the water. She leaves a mark on the production with a style and “sarcastic” elegance like I’ve rarely seen. Trust me, you will remember her and be laughing so hard at some of her line deliveries, your sides will hurt! She is a true pleasure to watch in the role and executes it with unabated, seasoned talent.
The supporting ensemble cast is a singing, acting, and dancing machine of youth, energy, excitement and vocal magnificence. Every member of the Chorus Girls and Vice Squad play multiple roles, and take each of them to soaring heights of entertainment. Vocally, they are powerful and lovely to hear, and add depth and wonderful support in the scenes. Congratulations to all for a spectacular job and for making a great impact in the success of the production.
This national tour of Nice Work If You Can Get It should become an instant hit that will leave you smiling and singing as you leave the theatre. Making its debut right here in Dallas/Ft. Worth, take the chance to see it now before it leaves, takes the world by storm, and you lose the chance to see TRUE Broadway musical theatre at its’ finest!
Show runs at the Music Hall at Fair Park September 2-14 presented by Dallas Summer Musicals; and then moves over to play Bass Performance Hall September 16-21presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth.
For Dallas tickets: Single tickets, priced from $15-$85, are available at The Box Office, 5959 Preston Royal Shopping Center #542 in Dallas, or at any Ticketmaster outlet. Tickets are also available online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.dallassummermusicals.org.
Groups of 10 or more receive a 15% discount and priority seating. Please call 214-426-GROUP (4768) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For Fort Worth tickets: Single tickets, priced from $38.50-$99, are available online at www.basshall.com over the phone at 817-212-4280 or in person at the Bass Hall Box Office.
Groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount. For group sales call 817-212-4248 or email email@example.com
For more information, please visit www.dallassummermusicals.org and www.basshall.com.