It’s the band that stands out in this student production of Crazy For You: more than two dozen musicians glide seemingly effortlessly, directed by Tony Castro, through more than two dozen musical numbers by George and Ira Gershwin. It’s rare, at least these days, to see such a high percentage of the audience stay for the entire playout at the close of the performance after the final bows have been taken and the house lights have come back up. As this just so happens to be a show partly about putting on shows, it was appropriate to have the band on stage.
This may have reduced the available performance space for a suitably large cast, but the staging fits quite snugly. Slow-motion movements – one of my pet hates (and I don’t have very many) was mercifully restricted to a few seconds in one scene, and even I will admit it worked in the sense of achieving a comic effect. There’s a sort of Brechtian effect that the production manages to create, such that the audience can laugh at the trading of insults between characters without feeling any sense of unease or discomfort. Though I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for Lank Hawkins (Harvey Westwood), the subject of many a disparaging remark.
Deadrock, apparently in Nevada, is about an hour’s walk from the nearest railway station (there are no local buses). Bobby Child (Christian Andrews), a member of a wealthy banking family, is sent by his mother Lottie (Simone Sullivan) from their base in New York to foreclose on the Gaiety Theatre in Deadrock. Instead, he falls head over heels for Polly Baker (Ella-Jane Thomas), the daughter of Everett (Jonathan Barakât), the guy who can’t keep up his mortgage repayments on the Gaiety. Hashtag awkward.
Thomas’ Polly came into her own during a sound problem, projecting very well in ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’, and unfazed by the sort of scenario that just might happen in a production where the audience isn’t as sympathetic and encouraging as this one (this production is the summer showcase for final year 2017/18 Trinity Laban Musical Theatre students). Andrews’ Bobby shines with some fancy footwork, particularly in the second half. I’m still torn as to whether he could have possessed more stage presence, or if this was more a case of deliberately holding back to portray a character rather unsure of himself in a novel situation. (If I understand correctly, Polly is supposed to be the stronger one of the two.)
While absolutely not the fault of the cast or the production team, there’s no escaping that this is a sort of jukebox musical, where Girl Crazy has been reworked with the inclusion of other tunes from the Gershwin repertoire. Some of the songs don’t work as well as others, and there are moments when one is waiting for a number to finish in order for the plot proper to resume, even if there is some nice song and dance to enjoy in the interim.
Eugene (Michael Karl-Lewis) and Patricia Fodor (Danielle Whittaker) could have been a tad hammier in their portrayal of visitors to Deadrock who attempt to encourage the locals to persevere with a fundraiser production to try to save the Gaiety. But the comic timing overall works well, keeping the punchlines within the confines of character dialogue, without playing to the gallery. The cast did well in muddling through various technical hitches. All things considered, it’s an enjoyable and energetic production, an evening of lively escapism. “Who could ask for anything more?”
Review by Chris Omaweng
With high drama, high kicks ad a superb score of Gershwin tunes, Crazy for You is the ultimate celebration of the golden age of Broadway musicals. Love strikes when Bobby, a showbiz-obsessed banker meets Polly, the daughter of a failing local theatre owner.
Combining mistaken identity, physical comedy, and a wealth of memorable songs including I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It, and Embraceable You, Crazy for You is the ideal opportunity to see final year Trinity Laban Musical Theatre students before they hit the big time.
With music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, book by Ken Ludwig and co-conception by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent, inspired by material by Guy Bolton and John McGowan.
Trinity Laban Musical Theatre Presents: Crazy For You
Friday 22 June: 2.30PM AND 7.30PM
SATURDAY 23 June: 2.30PM AND 7.30PM
Director: Sarah Redmond
Musical Director: Tony Castro
Choreographer: Anthony Whiteman