Nice Work If You Can Get It by Conestoga High School in Berwyn, PA
March 14, 2018
Review submitted by Harleigh Myerovich of Harriton High School
Flappers, fanfare, and farcical foibles fill the stage in Conestoga High School’s production of Nice Work If You Can Get It. A new take on the classic songs of George and Ira Gershwin, Nice Work premiered on Broadway in 2012. This upbeat musical tribute pokes fun at 1920s prohibition and the hapless characters who find themselves at the center of a contemporary Broadway comedy. The story begins by introducing the hapless Jimmy Winter, a wealthy ladies’ man with a propensity for folly. After his riotous speakeasy bachelor party, he meets the swaggering bootlegger Billie Bendix, who steals his wallet and ultimately his heart.
Conestoga’s production was anchored by the consistent energy of its large, colorful ensemble. From the first scene to curtain call, the ensemble’s sharp delivery of demanding choreography delighted the audience and captured the razzle-dazzle of classic Broadway. In the role of Jimmy Winter, Max Mooney commanded the stage with assuredness and heart. In the opening number, “Sweet and Lowdown”, Mooney drew the audience in, along with, Zoe Pratt as Billie Bendix. They delivered an engaging performance, beautifully singing ballads such as “Someone to Watch Over Me.” In “Treat Me Rough,” Pratt embraced the comedy of her role and kept the audience chuckling with her character’s flirtatious antics.
Disguised as Jimmy’s “butler” and “chef”, bootleggers Cookie McGee (Bryce Bundens) and Duke Mahoney (Mark Hengel) brought considerable humor to the production. Mahoney garnered laughter from the audience from scene to scene with his consistent downtrodden antics. As the lovably ditsy Jeannie Muldoon, Charlotte Kalilec displayed a knack for comedic timing and highlighted her character’s charm. Tara Moon, in the role of strict prohibitionist Estonia Dulworth, contributed to the show’s riotous humor, quite literally swinging from a chandelier as she gracefully sang the vocally demanding “Looking for a Boy.” To close the show, Alex Gianaris as Jimmy’s bootlegging mother, Millicent Winter, delivered a strong performance and upheld the humor and energy of the show in her featured role.
In addition to the talented cast, the technical elements of Conestoga’s production served to bring the 1920s to life. Despite an initial microphone issue, the Conestoga Sound Crew went on to seamlessly amplify a 50+ person cast. The Conestoga Orchestra seemed to effortlessly keep up with a demanding Gershwin score and were perceptive in helping to resolve initial microphone difficulties by playing softly until the issue was resolved. The bright colored lights of the Conestoga Light Crew brought out the over-the-top antics of the characters. The Conestoga Special Effects crew also delighted the audience, as bubbles showered the audience in the lavish bathing number, “Delishious.”
Overall, Nice Work If You Can Get It marks a “S’wonderful” end to Conestoga’s theatre season.
Review submitted by Kit Conklin of Baldwin School
Take The Great Gatsby, and add the humor of Saturday Night Live, groovy Golden Age Gershwin music, and a pantheon of hilarious high school performers— what do you get? Conestoga High School’s production of Nice Work If You Can Get It.
It’s 1927, and Long Island is a vortex of quirky, outrageous characters, from prissy prohibitionists to flamboyant flappers. Written by Joe DiPietro, Nice Work If You Can Get It premiered on Broadway in 2012, mixing Jazz Era charm with hysterical contemporary comedy.
Conestoga’s production of Nice Work If You Can Get It flourished with flying colors— literally! The musical consists of one show-stopping number after another. Every song was an explosion of movement, color, excitement, and talent. Everything from the side-splitting speaking roles, to the tedious work and artistic mastery behind the scenes, to an ensemble that put the Mummers Parade to shame, shone through exquisitely.
Among the superlative cast, numerous performances stood out. Bryce Bundens’s Cookie McGee procured roars of laughter from the audience, channeling classic cartoon character hilarity and bringing charm to the stage the moment he entered a scene. Amelia Dubendorf stole the show with her stellar performance as THE Eileen Evergreen, her memorable solo “Delishious” a highlight among a production abundant with extraordinary songs.
Another stand-out number was “I’ve Got To Be There” choreographed by Charlotte Kalilec, who smoothly juggled fiercely leading the ensemble as dance captain with a side-splitting featured role as the vivacious Jeanie Muldoon. Max Mooney (Jimmy Winters) and Zoe Pratt (Billy Bendix) brought the story’s protagonists to life, seizing the stage with their powerful vocals, comedic charisma, and ceaseless effort.
From a technical standpoint, Conestoga’s production was remarkable. Nearly all the backstage work was executed by students, from the phenomenal set, marvelous lighting design, and unparalleled student orchestra; The staggering amount of detail, time, and effort put into the production was jaw-dropping, and all of it was made crystal clear. The performance was filled with impressive special effects, including bubbles and dry ice, and the backstage crew conducted stark scene transitions with astounding speed and efficiency. What minor technical errors arose were rapidly overcame and skillfully dealt with, a hallmark of excellent teamwork, communication, and dedication.
Conestoga’s production of Nice Work If You Can Get It was a display of high school musical theater at its finest— and the cast and crew should be incredibly proud of their work.