Nice Work, They Definitely Got It
Hitting the Stage Editor Cheyne Nomura usually writes HTS' reviews for Diamond Head Theatre. However, he's since been hired as one of their House Managers, and thus I went to watch my first ever Diamond Head Theatre production: Nice Work If You Can Get It. A new musical from 2012 featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin, this production wows over and over with strong performances and killer voices to match, all set to familiar tropes of comedy that we have all seen at one time or another.
It's 1927, and Prohibition is in full swing as people venture to speakeasies to get their fix of alcohol and mingle with the opposite sexes. Beginning with a rousing sendoff for playboy Jimmy Winter (Drew Niles) by the chorus girls of his favorite speakeasy in New York, we learn that Jimmy Winter will be getting married for a fourth time to Eileen Evergreen (Lea Woods Almanza), premiere modern dancer. After the party, Jimmy runs into Billie Bendix (Ahnya Chang), who got separated briefly from her bootlegging buddies Cookie McGee and Duke Mahoney (Matthew Pedersen and Kyle Mcnamara). Jimmy, in his drunkenness, reveals to Billie he's marrying a woman he doesn't love but rather is marrying to earn approval from his mother (Lisa Konove). Billie, seizing an opportunity, swipes Jimmy's wallet and finds a place to store all the smuggled alcohol her bootlegging team need to stash- Jimmy Winters' ritzy Long Island Beach House, which Jimmy tells her that he never, ever uses. The next morning, the beach house is 400 cases of liquor fuller, and has the three bootleggers applauding a job well done, until who comes strolling up the driveway but Jimmy and his new wife. The trio of bootleggers go under disguise to protect their stash in the Winter Beach House Cellar, and a cavalcade of near misses and shenanigans ensue!
I can see Nice Work If You Can Get It being a possibly dizzying experience, with its tremendous cast size (I counted at least twenty-six), back to back gags (comedy is hard!), and interwoven story lines. Director Malindi Fickle navigates all of that and more with aplomb, finding the heart and soul to drive this show to its bombastic final number and beyond. Every actor, principal or ensemble, takes the stage and gives it their all in both voice and in acting. The comedy is almost always played in earnest, which makes for a better laugh and a better story. Plus, under the beautiful musical direction of Ike Webster and the choreography of Caryn Yee and Lisa Kimsey, everyone on stage looks and sounds phenomenal. Truly, the entire company should be proud of their energy and talent- to me, not a weak link was found.
Props to Stephen Clear for his dazzling lighting, there were a few moments that I melted at how they elevated the scenes. Karen G. Wolfe's costume design looks fabulous and period appropriate, and my favorite prop among designer Mathias Maas' stunning prop list was his shotgun- it looked really great.
If you're in the mood to laugh and be wowed by strong voices and stunning dance numbers, look no further than Nice Work If You Can Get It at Diamond Head Theatre. You'll leave the theatre with a smile on your face, humming catchy tunes, and maybe thirsty for some of that giggle juice they keep talking about! It just opened, and runs through April 15- call 733-0274 for tickets.