JHS Musical: Nice Work If You Can Get It

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There’s nostalgia to be had at Johnstown High School’s exuberant production of the Gershwin musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” set for 7:30 p.m. on March 27 & 28 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 29.

The 2012 musical ran for 478 performances on Broadway, earning two Tony Awards. It is set in the 1920’s Prohibition Era and combines daffy comedy, screwball characters, jazzy dance numbers and the occasional tender ballad.

Senior Michael Bevington (at his best playing both suave and vague) is Jimmy Winter, an idle-rich playboy about to marry his fourth wife in a bid for respectability. While her predecessors have all been cheap chorus girls, current fiancée Eileen Evergreen (Victoria Fish) is “the finest interpreter of modern dance in the world,” as she frequently points out. But unexpected romance rears its head when Jimmy meets low-class female bootlegger Billie Bendix (Aurora LaTourette), who stashes a boatload of hooch in the cellar of his Long Island mansion while evading the Feds.

The show’s pleasures are boosted by its busy cavalcade of eccentric supporting characters. There are Billie’s cohorts, Cookie McGee (Hunter Hill) and Duke Mahoney (David Ormiston), cornered into posing as Jimmy’s butler and chef. Then there’s Eileen’s father (Sam Miller), a windbag Senator campaigning for re-election as a staunch prohibitionist, and his even more righteous sister, Duchess Estonia Dulworth (Emma Crouse), who crusades against the “Demon Rum” in her role as the proud founder of the Society of Dry Women. There’s Jeannie Muldoon (Sarah Martelle), a gold-digging chorus girl misled to think big-hearted lug Duke is part of the British Royal Family, and the frustrated Police Chief Berry (Ashley Ackernecht). Finally, there’s Jimmy’s sassy and worldly-wise mother (Caliope Brower).

Jeff Salatel as head of the Federal Vice Squad and a group of wild flappers (Heidi Chamberlain, Grace Michienzi, Mia Franko, Katie Ammann) round out the cast.

The musical abounds with Gershwin standards such as the title song, “’S Wonderful,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “Do It Again”

The production is directed by Michael S Burnett, with music direction by Cynthia Wood; costume coordinator, Darlene D’Onofrio; and costume alterations, Diane Dillenbeck.

Stage Crew members are Tyler Lawyer and Abby Ryan (Stage Managers), Elizabeth Willett (Lighting), Maddie Willett (Sound), Rachel Hansen and Hannah Chamberlain (Follow spots).

Band members include Briana Esposito, trombone; Ciara Solby, woodwinds; Katt Cummings, woodwinds; Alex Pratt, trumpet; and Megan Nolett, piano.

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