PEORIA, IL -- The musical "Nice Work if You Can Get It," played at the Peoria Civic Center on Oct. 28-29 as part of its first national tour. It's a strange mixture of music from George and Ira Gershwin set to a plot that's a 1920s farce about bootleggers, and the rich and poor.
The Gershwin music is timeless of course, and there are even a few odd songs that no one sings any more. The orchestration and live orchestra were terrific, and earned an A+.
The same can be said of the sets, though some of the costumes could stand improvement.
The plot is said to be based on something from Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote many plays and musicals in the 20th century. It was trivial and predictable, but amusing in some scenes.
The final book writer, Joe DiPietro, was nominated for a Tony, which seems to hint that in the hands of skilled performers this would be a better musical.
The non-Actors Equity cast was OK but not great, not Broadway quality but better than college or amateur performers. They spoke too fast in some scenes, so what they were saying could not be understood, not that it seemed to matter. The Civic Center's weak sound system may be at fault, as well. It's fine for music but not lyrics or dialogue.
This musical obviously was stitched together to give a platform for the Gershwin music, but it's hardly cutting edge or even original. Unsophisticated theater goers will like it, but for connoisseurs, it gets only a B+.
-- Elaine Hopkins