Review by Nola Bartolo
Sydney put on a show on the opening night of Nice Work If You Can Get It at the ever so quaint Hayes Theatre presented by Michelle Guthrie. The evening was fresh as the audience were waiting in anticipation for what turned out to be a fantastic and frivolous night. The show was fabulous. Everything about it was delightful.
Cameron Mitchell’s direction and choreography of Nice Work If You Can Get It, is a new take on the classic 1920’s musical farce. The tale of Jimmy Winter, a wealthy and carefree playboy living the good life during Prohibition. Jimmy has an unfortunate habit of marrying chorus girls, until he’s forced to marry a woman of substance – Eileen Evergreen, the finest interpreter of modern dance in the world. On the weekend of their nuptials, Jimmy meets Billie Bendix, a tough-as-nails bootlegger who has inadvertently stashed 400 cases of gin in Jimmy’s basement. Knocked out by this one-of-a-kind woman, Jimmy must deal with his high-strung fiancée and an assortment of bootleggers, prohibitionists, G-Men and chorus girls, as well as one very moralistic senator. Cameron Mitchell did a superb job across the board, and the performance deserved the standing ovation that it received.
The cast were exquisite. Every single one. Ashleigh Rubenach as Billie Bendix was incredible. Her voice was crystal clear. She brought emotion to the stage and was believable in her love for the dashing Jimmy Winter. Jimmy played by Rob Mallet was a character that we must love. He was perfect in his depiction of the wealthy and spoilt playboy that he was. Rob brought a tenacity to his performance and his singing and dancing were top notch. These two had a lovely energy between them.
But for me the three who stole the show were Andrew Waldin as Cookie McGee, Octavia Barron Martin as Duchess Estonia Dulworth and Adorah Oloapu as Chief Berry. Andrew was Jim Carrey like in his portrayal of Cookie McGee. He used slapstick humour in his facial expressions, and he was spot on with his timing. Octavia’s performance as the Duchess had us roaring with laughter especially as she let loose after drinking the evil spirit of Gin. Then what can I say about Adorah? I simply adored her. She had everyone laughing even the cast struggled at one point to keep it together with her humour and delivery. These three had the audience squealing with laughter and awe.
The music was fun. Damon Wade as the musical director did a marvellous job of bring the music of George and Ira Gershwin to us. Costumes were bright, glittery and feathery. The set was versatile as it moved seamlessly from club, to dock, to a mansion on Long Island. The choreography was energetic, bold and reminiscent of the golden age.
If you want to be entertained, then this show is for you. The humour is laugh out loud funny
In a world where it feels heavy this musical transports you to another time and place. A time and place were music and fun reigned supreme. Don’t miss it. I hear that tickets are running out the door and just in time for the silly season.
Image Credit: Leslie Grant