CRAZY FOR YOU REVIEW BY SUSY BRETT
The UK tour of the 1992 Tony Award-winning musical, with music and lyrics by the Gershwin brothers, Crazy For You, is in London for one week only.
The story follows an unfulfilled New York banker, Bobby Child, who travels to Nevada to close down an unprofitable theatre. Once in Nevada, he meets and falls in love with the spunky Polly – only for her to discover what he’s there to do. Desperate to win Polly back, Bobby conceives a crazy plan to make the theatre profitable again. Disguising himself as New York theatre producer Bela Zangler, Bobby inspires the townsfolk and wins the love of Polly – but can Bobby really produce a successful theatre production? And will Polly still love him when she realises he has deceived her twice?
Crazy for You is a classic musical filled with big, crowd-pleasing numbers. The songbook is largely adapted and modernised from the Gershwins’ 1930 musical, Girl Crazy, and many numbers will be recognisable to musical theatre fans. The songs themselves are diverse in style though still conforming to typical musical theatre fare, with comic acts like ‘What Causes That?’, Polly’s power solo ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and crowd anthem ‘Stiff Upper Lip’. ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’, which closes the first act, is particularly catchy – aided by a fantastic ensemble performance and clever lighting.
To put on a musical like Crazy for You, a brilliant ensemble is required – and indeed, the cast has talent in spades. They can act, sing, dance, tap dance, play instruments, perform comic routines and do stunts – simultaneously. Nothing seemed impossible for this cast and the show, creating a wonderful depiction of early twentieth-century vaudeville. The costumes, too, are brightly coloured and perky, creating a vibrant display of colour befitting of the period in which the show is set. One dress, worn by Polly as she finally reunites with Bobby at the end of act two, is particularly show-stopping.
The leads included Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers as Bobby, West End and TV star Claire Sweeney as his controlling fiancee Irene and Charlotte Wakefield as Polly. Chambers, as his background would suggest, is beautiful to watch on stage – blessed with a kind of easy grace and charisma in every movement. Wakefield is an apt match, and the two effortlessly glided across the stage in an ending number that will please any Strictly fans in the audience. Chambers’ endearing quality instantly appeals him to the audience, and contrasts well with the cool exterior of Polly. Meanwhile, Sweeney’s depiction of the demanding Irene added the requisite star quality to the sophisticated New Yorker.
It feels like more could be done with the two British characters in the show, Eugene (played by Kieran Kuypers) and Patricia (played by Stacey Ghent). One only has to look at the reaction to Hamilton’s King George to appreciate how much British audiences adore a good parody. Eugene and Patricia, despite an entertaining musical number, do not quite fulfil their comedy potential.
Crazy For You is very much a musical of its time. It is a traditional, old-school musical, using solid components of musical theatre such as a straightforward love story, physical comedy, bright and vibrant ensemble numbers and catchy show tunes. It is an excellent example of its genre, and musical theatre fans should flock to see it for this reason. It does not add anything new to the theatre scene, though one could argue why mess with a winning formula.
Crazy for You is running at the New Wimbledon Theatre until March 10 before continuing its national tour.
Thanks also to Susy Brett who attended for us and guest posted. Find her normal twitter adventures at @susybumblebee