More than 250 people filled Weber State University’s Allred Theater to attend the sold out Utah premier of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” on Feb. 27.

“The music was so much fun, the cast was outstanding, the story is hilarious, I loved everything about it,” said Nate Johnson, a musical theater fan.WSU Nice Work Photo With Jim Resized.jpg

“Nice Work If You Can Get It” first premiered on Broadway in April 2012. WSU is the first in Utah to perform this musical.

The story takes place in 1927 during the height of prohibition. The main characters are a rich young playboy, Jimmy Winter, and a crew of bootleggers, Billie, Cookie and Duke. The show features the music and lyrics of popular songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin.

This year is the 100 year anniversary of George Gershwin’s first published composition, “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em, When You’ve Got ‘Em, You Don’t Want ‘Em” which was published when Gershwin was 17.

Johnson enjoyed hearing some familiar songs.

“I recognized ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and ‘S’wonderful,” said Johnson. “It was really fun to hear these songs used to tell a story.”

The sold out theater brought an audience full of energy for the performers both on and off stage.

“We love hearing the crowd get into the play,” said Clayton Shepherd, the trumpet player in the pit orchestra. “That hypes us up and we feed off that energy.”

Saxophonist Austin Rushton noticed how excited the audience was for this performance.

“A good audience can make a huge difference,” said Rushton. “When the audience laughs and gets involved with the story, everybody has more fun.”

The show opened on Feb. 26 to a sold out performance.

“I was surprised we sold out opening night,” said Shepherd. “But to sell out two nights in a row is incredible.”

Shepherd attributes the stunning turn out to the popularity of the current director of the WSU theater department, Jim Christian.

“Nice Work If You Can Get It” is the final production for director Jim Christian before he retires from a 27-year career with WSU.

Christian has impacted many students and the community during his career and has helped to grow the WSU theatre department.

When Christian first came to Weber, the theatre department had hardly any students graduating. Christian helped grow the program to average 40 to 60 students per year.

Students and faculty that have worked with Christian agree that his influence has made quite an impact on WSU and the community.

“Jim Christian is amazing. It has been such a great experience performing in one of his musicals,” said Rushton.

Shepherd feels “Nice Work If You Can Get It” is a great show for Christian to end his WSU career.

“It’s a good show to go out on,” said Shepherd. “It’s the perfect musical, fun music, a great story and we have had amazing leadership.”

As the curtain closed at the end of the show, the audience stood to cheer for both the show and the man who directed it, Jim Christian.

“Nice Work If You Can Get It” will be performed three more times on March 3, 4 and the final show on March 5.

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