Diamond Head Theatre’s ‘NICE WORK’ brings Standing Ovation

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I had the unexpected pleasure of enjoying “Nice Work If You Can Get It” on Easter Sunday at Diamond Head Theatre in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“Unexpected” because I wasn’t supposed to be there and “pleasure” because it was an incredibly raucous good time.  Included with this specific showtime was a special cast and audience talkback where there were great audience reactions — I’ve included some of this throughout the review to add some extra flavor.

Diamond Head Theatre - 'Nice Work'
Lea Woods Almanza and Ensemble; Photo credit: Brad Goda

 

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From the moment the last curtain dropped, the theatre erupted in enthusiastic applause; the audience stood up and cheered as the cast took their bows. This production of “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” is truly an inspiring, well directed, nod to the memory of classical musicals.

 

Audience: “I couldn’t stop laughing.”

 

The play is set in the 1920s; the story of a charismatic, wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter (Drew Niles) who comes across a rugged female bootlegger Billie Bendix (Ahnya Chang) the weekend of his wedding. When Billie decides to stash 400 cases of alcohol at Jimmy’s Long Island mansion, problems arise with his wife and her prohibitionist family, who are visiting for the wedding.

Audience: “I just wanted to stand up and dance”

 

Ahnya Chang delivers an effortlessly beautiful performance and is terrific alongside co-lead Drew Niles.  Together, the pair make us believe that love is possible.  An enchanting chemistry permeates through their fabulous voices and incredible dancing.

Another stand-out is Matthew Pedersen playing Cookie McGee; this Broadway alum’s performance is absolutely electric. He brings a balance of hilarity and vulnerability to his character — his performance ranges from the delicacy of crystal clear vocals to the strength of physical comedy. This dynamic artist truly brings heart and soul to all of the show’s antics.

 

Diamond Head Theatre, 'Nice Work'
Matthew Pedersen and Drew Niles (L to R); Photo credit: Brad Goda

 

Audience: “Thank you for reminding me musical theatre has a heart that can be felt”

 

Other noteworthy performances from the incredible supporting cast include: Stacey Pulmano’s fearless Duchess; after Cookie spikes her lemonade, the Duchess ends the wedding luncheon by swinging from the dining room chandelier – the audience roared with laughter well into the next scene. Jesie Rocetes has terrific comedic timing as the Police Chief; Kyle McNamara delivers a passionate and heartfelt Duke; Lea Woods Almanza is a consummate modern dancer, beating to her own drum and is full of surprises throughout.

Leading this talented cast is the inspired Director Malindi Fickle, and her creative team including: Musical Director Ike Webster, who delivers toe-tapping tempos and harmonies, and Choreographers Caryn Yee and Lisa Kimsey who invigorate fresh energy into the outstanding and inventive dance.

 

Audience: “You brought Broadway to the islands”

 

The supporting ensemble’s chemistry is outstanding! Fickle’s creative vision pushes past the script and liberates the cast’s performances. Everyone on the stage is having a blast with the story and it shows; adding punch, laughter, spectacular song and dance and pure fun to each scene.

Diamond Head Theatre, 'Nice Work'
Drew Niles, Ahnya Chang (featured on the bed) and Ensemble; Photo credit: Brad Goda

 

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This production reminds us that even in 2018 musical theatre has an important place in our lives. These shows share with us, through laughter, song and dance, reminders for levity and positivity on a great night out. If you’re looking for a fantastic, family-friendly experience then this is the show for you!

“Nice Work If You Can Get It,” runs through April 15 at the Diamond Head Theatre. One additional performance Saturday April 14 at 3pm has just been added to accommodate the almost sold out run. For tickets and more information: https://www.diamondheadtheatre.com/ or call (808) 733-0274.

Venue: Diamond Head Theatre, Honolulu, Hawaii (until April 15th)

Cast: Drew Niles, Ahnya Chang, Matthew Pedersen, Kyle McNamara, Jesie Rocetes, Federico Biven, Stacey Pulmano, Lea Woods Almanza,Terrace Althouse, Jody Bill, Lisa Konove, Alika Bright, Victoria Chang, Celia Chun, Dan Doerger, Ryan Dressel, Korynn Grenert, Joshua Haili-Silva, Britni Joy, Anthony Lee, Chev-Vaughn Lum, Michelle Matias, Samuel J. Mitchell, Christina Sutrov, Will Thompson, Kayla Uchida, Jorin Young.

Music & lyrics: George and Ira Gershwin

Book: Joe DiPietro, inspired by material by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse

Director: Malindi Fickle

Music Director: Ike Webster

Choreographers: Caryn Yee & Lisa Kimsey 

Set Design: Willie Sabel 

Costume Design: Karen G. Wolfe 

Lighting Design: Stephen Clear

Sound Design: Kerri Yoneda

Prop Design: Mathias Mass

Hair/Make Up Design: Linda Lockwood