by Lynn on June 9, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

Crazy For You

At the Festival Theatre, Stratford, Ont.

Book by Ken Ludwig,
Music and Lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Musical Direction by Shelley Hanson
Designed by Debra Hanson
Lighting by Paul Miller
Sound by Peter McBoyle
Lally Cadeau
Natalie Daradich
Keith Dinicol
Josh Franklin
Robin Hutton
Tom Rooney
Steve Ross

A candy floss musical with wonderful songs and a hard working cast that is anxious that we love it all.

The Story. Bobby Child loves nothing more than to sing and dance. He wants to be in a Broadway show produced by the great Broadway impresario, Bela Zangler. He auditions But is never hired. He auditions so often all the chorus girls and boys know him. His mother, Mrs. Lotte Child, wants Bobby to be sensible and work in the family business—they own a bank—and marry the snooty debutant to whom he is engaged. Bobby’s not happy.

His mother suggests that he get these silly notions out of his head by going to Deadrock, Nevada where he is to foreclose on a property that is in debt to the bank. Bobby’s not happy. But when he gets there he sees the property is a theatre. He also meets Polly Baker, the daughter of the owner, Everett Baker. It’s love at first sight…with Polly, not her father. Bobby is happy. And he promises to turn around the fortunes of the theatre. Polly isn’t too happy because she knows Bobby is there to close the place down. But Bobby has a brilliant idea. And it goes from there and absolutely everybody sings and dances about it.

The Production. Debra Hansen’s pastel coloured, neon lit first act set of a proscenium stage reminds one of candy, so the candy floss metaphor is apt. The show gets off to a rousing tapping start when Bobby can’t stop himself from dancing. The chorus boys and girls join him, as they do for most of the show. Donna Feore’s choreography is lively to the point that the hard-working, smiling dancers are determined to make us think it’s all dazzlingly inventive and it would be churlish not to love it.

Ken Ludwig’s book goes for the groaner jokes which is fine for this light comedy. There is a trio of cowboys who are funny in a cheesy kind of way and that’s endearing. Josh Franklin as Bobby Child is a dashing and charming leading man. He dances beautifully; sings well; is eager, earnest and disarming when it comes to Polly. She is played with appropriate prickliness by Natalie Daradich. She is a perfect match; smiling; dancing up a storm. Strong singer.

As Bela Zangler, Tom Rooney is smooth, sophisticated, hugely inventive when doing physical humour, of which there is plenty and is always compelling. There’s nothing pushy about his work. It just slides up and quietly captivates you. What a pleasant surprise to see Keith Dinicol as Everett Baker, tap dance as if he had been doing it his whole life. As Mrs. Lotte Child, Bobby’s formidable mother, Lally Cadeau can own the stage and the moment like the best of them. With little to say, she says it with authority and conviction.

Comment. Crazy For You has those glorious songs by George and Ira Gershwin in which every one seems to be a standard, such as: “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “But Not For Me,” “Nice Work, If You Can Get It.” Astonishing. It’s a very accomplished, energetic cast and the result is a buoyant diversion as sweet and winning as candy floss.

Produced by the Stratford Festival

Opened: May 27, 2014
Closes: October 12, 2014
Cast: 33; 19 men, 14 women
Running Time: approx. 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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