Nice Work If You Can Get It

Rebecca Varidel
24th Nov 2022

There was a time when musical theatre was called musical comedy, when musicals were just light-hearted fun and happy. Happy entertainment. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy messes up, loses girl, wins girl back. Happy ending. You left the theatre, or finished the film, uplifted. I loved that era which started about 100 years ago evolving out of Vaudeville into the first musical stage shows. 

Nice Work If You Can Get It, the title of this show is a song by the Gershwin brothers, and indeed all the music and lyrics of this show are by George and Ira Gershwin written in the early part of the 20th Century when the musical is set.

What a tremendously sunny, bubbly and waggish show! It's fun, and funny. And it's clever.

Fantastic casting and a live five piece band are supported by a silvery art deco inspired set and Roaring Twenties costumes.

The enormously talented professionals in Nice Work If You Can Get It centre around the debonnaire Rob Mallett as that millionaire playboy Jimmy Winter. A dashing lead who glides across the floor, and swoons us Sinatra style. Like a lot of Sydney talent, Ashleigh Rubenach originally debuted at Hayes Theatre and has gone on to a power packed musical theatre career. Her winning performance as bootlegger Billie Bendix commands our attention as she belts out the big numbers and hits the high notes, and melts our hearts as she dives into deeper emotions. Outstanding performances all round from dynamite Octavia Barron Martin, diva Grace Driscoll, judgemental Sal Sharah. Adorah Oloapu is hilarious as Chief Berry. Catty Hamilton gives great triple, this time its singing dancing and comedy. Yet the show stopping spotlight was on the immense performance of Anthony Garcia as Duke, captivating from his opening scene backflip to the after interval tap and onto his love declarations, surrounded by caricature and presence.

Director and choreographer Cameron Mitchell has injected into this classic 1920s musical farce ingenious bookmarks of the history of the musical in both staging and choreography. Impressively the dance is traditional Fred and Ginger (or Rita or Eleanor or Judy or Cyd) with clever twists and humorous pops. That bubble bath and sequined bathers scene! Or row the boat ukulele!

Hard not to sing along in the seat to songs you probably know: Nice Work If You Can Get It, Someone To Watch Over Me, S' Wonderful, But Not For Me, Let's Call The Whole Thing Off... What genious to have you say either neither potato tomato sung by a trio. Enormous fun. But you can't sing when you're laughing which becomes more and more frequent as Nice Work If You Can Get It builds towards its boy gets girl, every girl gets a boy, every boy gets a girl - happy ending.

If the happy as happy audience, and standing ovation of opening night are anything to go by, the new tickets for an extended season that have just been released should sell out quickly.