Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Crazy for You"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2003 by Tony Annicone

"Crazy for You"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Norton Singers current show is the 1992 musical, "Crazy For You" an adaptation of the Gershwin's 1930 musical, "Girl Crazy" which starred Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman in their stage debuts. The show is about pampered playboy, Bobby Child who wants to be in show biz but his domineering banker mother wants him to be in charge of her business and sends him to Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on the mortage of a long closed theater. Since this is the 1930's, it's rich boy meets poor girl and fall's in love with her at first sight but girl hates boy because he is taking away her father's beloved theater. However all is not lost because there is much singing and dancing to erase everyone's troubles and as one of the hit number's says, "Who Could Ask for anything more." This 35 member cast lead by director, Ken Butler, musical director, Anthony Torelli and his 21 piece orchestra and choreographer, Pam Shapiro makes this a high energy must see show that you will definitely be crazy about with one hit song and dance after another. WOW.

Ken shows his prowess as director with his blocking of his huge cast so every scene flows smoothly from one to another in this very difficult and technically challenging show. He uses the two story set for old western gunfights for the tourist with the actors falling all over the place. But it is in his knowledge of the slapstick aspect of this script that this musical really soars. Ken gets every laugh out of this script and his cast performs their stunts with precision. Anthony leads his huge orchestra with melodious fanfare from the overture to the closing notes of the show. Gershwin's music never sounded better and the singers perform their numbers impeccably, too. The third part of this show is accomplished by the choreography of Pam Shapiro who also plays Irene, Bobby's shrewish New York fiancee. (Her dance number,"Naughty Baby" as Irene is a hoot where she plays a dominatrix who hog ties her loudmouth bar owner boyfriend up during it.) Her dance numbers sparkle and shine from Fred and Ginger movements to the whole cast tap dancing to "I Got Rhythm" as well as Bobby's dances with the chorus girls in Busby Berkley type movements. Excellent teaching as well as excellent execution by the cast. (The 1930's look is captured by the fabulous and breathtaking costumes of Dan Kozar.)

Kevin Mischley plays Bobby and not only tap dances his way into the hearts of the audience but delivers a comic tour de force with his oneliners, facial expressions and pratfalls. His first tap number, "I Can't Be Bothered Now" is done on the top of a car and he is joined by the chorus girls clad in pink with blond wigs. (A later number with the girls is "Nice Work If You Can Get It" where he displays Frank Sinatra type movements.) Kevin usually plays the leading man but as Bobby, he disguises himself as the producer, Bela Zangler to capture Polly's heart, to show he can handle character acting, too. One of the funniest songs,"What Causes That" is done with the real Zangler, played perfectly by Glenn Fournier, complete with a haughty, German accent where they are both dressed alike and perform mirror images of each other reminiscient of an old Marx Brothers routine. Polly, the only girl living in Deadeye is played beautifully by leading lady, Suzanne Cassidy. She uses her strong singing voice in the sentimental "Someone to Watch Over Me" and the poignant "But Not For Me". Suzanne displays her belting voice in the showstopping dance number, "I Got Rhythm". (Every kind of dance step in the world is done in this song and the dance with the round metal trays is fantastic with the girls kicking them and dancing at the same time.) She also captures the strength of this young girl by her acting and her song with Bobby dressed as Bela, "Embraceable You" is gorgeous. (The pesky moustache Kevin wore didn't want to stay on but he managed it during this number.) Two talented leading players keep the energy flowing and deserved their thunderous ovation at the close of the show.

This show is loaded with character actors in the supporting roles. One of them is the loudmouth, barkeep Lank played wonderfully by Pete Molitor who is also tech director of this show. His overbearing behavior is finally tamed by Irene who he ends up marrying. Polly's sweet father is played by Buddy Sheiber and Bobby's bitchy mother is played by Kristen Redpath who wind up with each other by the close of the show. The head chorine,Tess is played by Judee Bottomley who stepped into the role at the last minute and did an excellent job as the object of the married Bela's affections. She helps convince him to save the Deadeye theater and ends up with Bela after he ditches his wife. The other head chorus girl, Patsy, the not too bright blond with the high pitched voice is played marvelously by Kami Crary. With so many cast members it is too difficult to mention all of them but another standout is Don Powers as Moose who wears a long beard and looks like a country bumpkin. He pretends to play the bass in the "Slap the Bass" song where the girls wear ropes and the boys play them as the basses in another of Pam's ingenious dances. Great job by one and all. So be sure to catch this show at the Norton Singers. Tell them Tony sent you because he is CRAZY for "Crazy for You".

"Crazy for You" (5 - 8 June)
Wheaton College, 26 East Main Street, NORTON, MA
1 (508) 285-4049

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide