Do you like Gershwin? Do you dig tunes like “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “S’Wonderful” or a bit of “Rhapsody in Blue”? Well, have I got a show for you.
Footlite Musicals in downtown Indianapolis presents “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” chock-full of songs and music by George and Ira Gershwin.
There’s a fun plot: During the Prohibition era, bootleggers hide their hooch in a young man’s Long Island beach house. It was to be empty, but he shows up with his prospective bride to be wed and honeymoon there.
And one of the gin-runners is a young woman, so she and the man develop feelings for one another while the authorities are closing in. But all this is mostly a vehicle to get you from one ballad or song-and-dance number to the next. Fortunately, the book by Jeo DiPietro also throws in a lot of laughs between the tunes.
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Clayton Abbot is dashing as our young man Jimmy Winter. His voice is clear, but his mind is muddled with the prospect of having to marry, but not the woman he has come to love. Ivy Bott is “Delishious” as Eileen, the intended bride, a spoiled socialite. Lauren Bowers is the complete package as beautiful bootlegger Billie — singing, dancing and conniving her way into Jimmy’s heart, and ours.
Best scene-stealer honors go to Tom Bartley as Cookie McGee, the bootlegger leader pressed into hilarious service as Jimmy’s butler; and Leigh Alexovich as anti-liquor crusader Duchess Estonia Dulworth, who sings a different tune when the “Demon Rum” gets into her system. Other notable performances include Mike Bauerle as Police Chief Berry; Jeff Fuller as Senator (and Judge) Max Evergreen, Eileen’s father; Curtis Peters as bootlegger Duke Mahony; and Sarah Marone as Jeannie, the doll Duke falls for.
Sure, things get a little silly and illogical in the pursuit of the next dance break and eventual happy ending, but it’s all in fun. And you get 22 Gershwin songs, plus reprises and instrumental passages.
To borrow another title, this show is “Sweet and Lowdown” entertaining, running through Sunday at the Hedback Theater, 1847 N. Alabama St. Call 317-926-6630 or see footlite.org.