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Crazy For You

Published by: Louise Winter on 22nd Mar 2018 | View all blogs by Louise Winter

Reviewed by Louise Winter

20th March 2018Crazy For you Richard Davenport

image copyright Richard Davenport

Originally presented as Girl Crazy in the 1930s, this light-hearted Gershwin musical was designed to brighten up the Depression years with some escapism and razzmatazz. The storyline was reworked in the 1990s by Ken Ludwig and director Mike Ockrent, the score was rearranged to include more of the Gershwin catalogue, and the title became Crazy For You.  Opening in the West End in 1993 it garnered Olivier Awards for Best Musical and Choreography.

Despite the beefing-up of the original storyline it is still rather flimsy and predictable. Briefly, Bobby Child (Tom Chambers), the son of a wealthy New York banking family but only interested in song and dance, is sent to Deadrock, Nevada to close down a failing theatre. Bobby falls for Polly (Charlotte Wakefield), daughter of the theatre owner. She thinks he’s a fool. Bobby pretends to be the theatre impresario Bela Zangler (Neil DItt), who Polly does fall in love with. The real Zangler arrives in Deadrock as does Bobby’s fiancée, Irene (Claire Sweeney). You can pretty much guess the rest! There are some very funny moments, mostly revolving around mistaken identity and the ingenious scene between Bobby and Bela Zangler in the second half is a great hoot.

There is some wonderful Gershwin music: I Got Rhythm, Someone To Watch Over Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, among many others, all performed on stage by the actor-musicians. Nearly all the cast play a number of instruments and herein lies something of a problem for me. While it is wonderful to see such a multi-talented cast, the dominance of the instruments on stage and the frequency with which the cast are required to play them means the performance flow is interrupted and that there is somewhat of a lack in high energy, exciting ensemble dancing.  It's a conundrum; cost-cutting attempts here - losing the orchestra and moving the music on stage have a detrimental effect on this production I'm sad to say.

The cast are all great; the leads’ strengths are underused though. Tom Chambers is a brilliant dancer but this talent isn’t fully exploited. He does get the chance to show his talent for comedy and the quirky, silly, self-effacing slapstick moments were reminiscent of Eric Morecombe. Charlotte Wakefield is a great dancer and has a cracking voice – again underused here. There’s a Doris Day/ Calamity Jane feel to her character and Wakefield balances this sweet/fesity aspect well. Claire Sweeney is domineering fiancée Irene appearing in Act one and then not again until the middle of the second half. She has one major moment; her Naughty Baby performance.

There are not a great number of glittery costumes, with only the New York chorus line in anything shiny until the odd, brief end scene where Polly wears a Hollywood gown. As the majority of the play takes place in Deadrock the costumes are pretty much of the dull brown dungaree ilk for the men and day dresses for the visiting New Yorkers; unexpected when looking at the programme and poster which present a glitzy, stylish Hollywood musical image - at odds with the actual production.

Lovely music, old jokes, not enough dancing and a happy ending is the order of the evening.

Plays Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 24th March

0844 871 7652

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/crazy-for-you

Booking fee applies

 

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