Crazy for You is a traditional musical from the Gershwin’s catalogue of brilliance, a production revitalized by Joey Parnes, Sally Horchow, and Michael Harrison. It had a run of sell-out performances at the Chichester Festival Theatre and is directed by Olivier award-winning director Susan Stroman.
Charlie Stemp star of Half a Sixpence and Mary Poppins as (Bobby Childs) and Wicked star Carly Anderson as (Polly Baker) head up a stellar cast showcasing joyous melodies including the familiar Gershwin classic songs, I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away from Me.
The performers acted and danced their way through a 2-hour 20-minute score and brought to life the ‘Folies Bergere’ style and glamour, a delightful spectacle of costumes, color, and synchronicity which filled the stage and amazed the audience. Bela Zangler, played by the glorious Tom Edden, depicts his character beautifully within the context of the Gershwin style.
The storyline follows Bobby Child’s desire to become a stage performer against his mother’s wishes to continue the family banking business. His nemesis, Zangler, does not see the value in Bobby as a performer, which adds to his frustrations. This is played out through the storyline. His personal dilemma reaches a climax when he is reluctantly sent to close down and collect the debt from a disused theatre in Deadrock, Nevada, where he encounters Polly. On realizing his dream and the opportunity of performing on stage, he embarks on a fictional plot. Pretending to be ‘Bela Zangler,’ Bobby promises the people to revive the theatre with a showcase production to generate income to repay their debt. Bobby falls in love and wins the heart of Polly, and Polly falls in love with Zangler alias Bobby Childs. The twisting plot lines take a sharp turn when the REAL Bela Zangler arrives in town.
The slick interactive nature of the performers with their Americanisms and banter with each other provides timely comedic interludes and clever dialogue. A highlight of the show was the meeting of the two ‘Zanglers’ a dual performance of sheer magic in their mimicking of each other, not only in their looks, but in their actions and mannerisms which demonstrated skill and professionalism in Charlie and Tom’s dynamic relationship on stage. It was thrilling with similarities to a ‘Laurel and Hardy’ sketch, a pure joy to watch.
The set changes were smooth and in keeping with the style of the times. The choreography was spectacular. It was so uplifting to see many genres of dance, including tap, a solo ballet/tap segment, and ballroom capturing the romantic authenticity of a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ moment. Amazing. The storyline is simplistic and has slapstick humor throughout, and it works.
The stage actors and performers appeared to be enjoying themselves, and this gave the show a real lift and wow factor. If you are a fan of Gershwin’s nostalgic musical theater, then Crazy for You is for you! Full of dance and romance, it lacks depth of meaning in some scenes, but this does not detract nor disappoint in any way from what is a professional awesome production of a Gershwin classic.
Word of warning … I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away from Me can become real earworms and you may be singing the lyrics for days.
Crazy For You is booking until 20 January 2024, visit https://crazyforyoumusical.com/ for full details.
Reviewer: Michelle Knight
Reviewed: 5th July 2023
North West End UK Rating: