With nothing on its tiny mind but pulchritude and parody, Nice Work If You Can Get It, a dumping ground of cornball clichés woodenly directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall with tinned arrangements of early tunes by George and Ira Gershwin, has landed on Broadway at the Imperial with a mechanical thud. Except for one or two exceptions, it is so vulgar, boring and stupid that it will probably be a hit.
The stars are Matthew Broderick, who sings weakly, can’t dance and is 20 pounds overweight, and Kelli O’Hara, who does everything musical with welcome panache but ends up wasted in a role so dumb it would have been rejected by Martha Raye.
Porgy and Bess has never been thought of as a dance show, and yet it’s filled with dance. It uses dance to punctuate the action, or as background, or as atmosphere; even when it’s front and center it isn’t crucial. Back in 1935 when it opened (at the Alvin Theater, on Broadway), it was reviewed by both the New York Times’s theater critic, Brooks Atkinson, and its music critic, Olin Downes. Atkinson never mentions the show’s dance component, and Downes has only this to say: “Admitted the instinct of Negroes to dance, did the inhabitants of Catfish Row set themselves in centrifugal patterns along the floor and wiggle hands and toes like the ladies who are auxiliary to a soloist’s performance in a revue? Of course this was amusing. So was the clogging of Sportin’ Life in the forest scene.”