Theater Mirror Reviews "Crazy For You"

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | INTERMISSION |


"Crazy For You"

Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Book by Ken Ludwig
Directed by George Ganakas
Original Choreography by Susan Stroman, Recreated by Angelique Ilo

       Bobby Child........................................Bob Walton
       Polly Baker....................................Lynnette Perry
       Irene Roth.....................................Nancy Johnston
       Lank............................................James Hindman
       Bela Zangler.....................................David Coffee
       Tess...........................................Kerry Casserly
       Mother/ Patricia Fodor............................Charis Leos
       Everett Baker................................R. Bruce Elliott
       Eugene Fodor...............................John M. Wiltberger
       Moose............................................Lyle Kanouse
       Custus...........................................Alan Gilbert
       Women................Leslie Stroud, Trina Simon, Erin Robbins
                       Amy Burnette, Stephanie Whitaker, Merril West
       Men..........John M. Wiltberger, Brian McKinney, Mark Mullino
                             Jay Franke, Bill Szobody, Gary Bankston
    


This show is magnificent!

It's been adapted from the Gershwins' 1930 hit "Girl Crazy" which had a dated book and a silly plot, so Ken Ludwig was asked to write a brand new book with a silly plot. When the original show was put together the book was nothing but some clever patter and comic routines, and the plot was simply an excuse to keep the principals out of each other's arms until the final curtain. (The first eight names in our cast-list are not paired by accident.)

And of course the other reason for the plot was to set up all those brilliant new songs, flashy ballroom turns, tap- routines, and big-finish chorus numbers that most people these days can find nowhere but in old M.G.M. movies. But Fred Astaire learned most of what he did doing musicals live on stages in New York and London --- and Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman were in that original cast of "Girl Crazy" that spawned the new "Crazy for You". So if things seem familiar occasionally on the big round North Shore Music Theatre stage, it might be hard to tell what they're really familiar from.

The important thing about it all, though, is that none of this show has sprocket-holes; every tap, every note, all three cases of love-at-first-sight, every slide and joke and pratfall is every bit as good as any musical movie you can name --- and every moment of it is live.

The hero's a New York wannabee hoofer whose banker mother sends him to foreclose on a property in Nevada --- a theatre, empty since the gold-mines gave out --- owned by the heroine. The saloon-keeper next door proposed to her and pleads to buy her out, but our hero insists they put on a show to pay the mortgage! ("Mickey Rooney does it all the time!") He disguises himself as the Follies-impresario Bela Zangler, only to have her fall in love with him in his fake beard and mustache --- and then the Real Zangler shows up in Deadrock, and....and it's a silly plot, right?

But how often do you hear the Girl sing "Embrace me, my sweet Embraceable You" to the Guy --- and when they dance, She leads. Bob Walton and Lynnette Perry fling themselves about the NSMT stage with verve, grace, and precision enough to make you think there were dozens of re-takes to make it look so effortless.

Walton and David Coffee do a drunken "dueling Zanglers" mirror-routine sharply timed enough to make the Marx Brothers jealous. James Hindman's Lank is the sort of villain that consistently slow-burns because he has all the set-ups in two-line put-downs. There are faked bar-room shoot-outs and gymnastic schtick, ladies turned into surreal bass-fiddles and anchor-buoys, backstage shenanigans and rehearsal routines and prancing follies- costumes, and lots of long-legged ladies who can tap-dance.

And if that weren't enough, there are Gershwin's music with Gershwin's lyrics in old standards made new by context, and in some songs no one has sung since 1930. There is enough energy and enthusiasm and split-second action for half a dozen movie- musicals --- and Director Greg Ganakas makes every moment of it look easy.

And if the North Shore Music Theatre could nearly pack their big house with patrons on their feet and cheering while the entire rest of America was watching Fourth of July fireworks, tickets to the rest of the run should be in very short supply.

There's a number to call for reservations somewhere down below here.

What are you waiting for? You'll never be able to to find cassettes of a live stage show like this at your neighborhood Blockbuster, you know. And this show closes 20 July.

===larry stark
4:20 a m, after the 4th of July show


"Crazy For You"


Set Design by Howard Jones
Costume Coordinator Elspeth McClanahan
Lighting Design by Tom Sturge
Sound Designers Otts Munderloh, Andrew E. Skomorowsky
Music Director Keith Thompson
Production Stage Manager David Dreyfoos
Deck Manager Jay Martin

Co-Produced with CASA MANANA, TEXAS
at


THE NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE


2 Dunham Road, BEVERLY
1(508)922-8220
through 20 July


THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | INTERMISSION |