Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Crazy for You"

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entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"Crazy For You"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of Theatre-by-the-Sea's 76th season 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 business but his domineering banker mother wants him to be in charge of her business and sends him to Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on the mortgage of a long closed theater. Since this is 1930's, it's rich boy meets poor girl, falls 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 song's says "Who Could Ask for Anything More?". The direction by Amiee Turner and music direction by Andrew Smithson is topnotch in this well cast show but it is the dancing by this multitalented cast and the choreography by Barbara Hartwig who recreates Susan Stroman's original choreography that will have you cheering in the aisles.

Owner and producer Bill Hanney, managing Producer Joel Kipper and Producing Artistic director Amiee Turner who also directs this show, keep the production values at an all time high with gorgeous colorful 1930's costumes by Brad Musgrove who choreographed "The Producers" last season and makes his debut as a costume designer with this show. The scenery is by Kenneth J. Martin with exteriors and interiors of buildings which include numerous backdrops, one with stars shining on it, a theatre backdrop in New York as well as a two story Western style bar room and most impressive an actual running 1930's car which is driven around the stage with Bobby climbing on top of it and the chorus girls appearing out of the hood and through the doors of the car. Amiee directs the show beautifully combining comic and dramatic moments wonderfully together. She supplies her performers with many bits of comedy from pratfalls to playing musical instruments such as a saw, a shovel and various western accoutrements as well as the mirror image style song and dance. Amiee keeps the set changes moving constantly by her excellent stage crew, lead by stage manager, Jennifer Shenker. Andrew Smithson not only conducts the fantastic orchestra but plays lead keyboards in the show. (He also plays the piano in the cabaret with Mike Sartini on drums.) His whole orchestra soars from the opening of the overture to the closing number "I Got Rhythm" with everyone tap dancing in unison and Andrew obtains lovely harmonies from the cast in their solos, duets and group numbers. Barbara who hails from North Carolina, gets the dancers to do some unbelievable work in all their numbers including numerous tap dancing segments while dancing on pie plates in the Rhythm song, a Gene Kelly style dance with hat and cane, a gorgeous follies number, a can-can, kick-line and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing by the two leads. The lighting by Weston Wilkerson is stunning with the lights setting the mood of each scene splendidly and the sound design is by Ryan McGinty. Kudos to Amiee and her whole cast and crew for doing a magnificent job with this enormous show.

Sean Montgomery plays Bobby Child excellently, looking like a young version of Gene Kelly. He never seems to stop dancing from his first entrance while trying to impress Zangler while tap dancing to "Krazy for You" to the end of the show and does an awesome job. Sean's first big tap dance "I Can't Be Bothered Now" starts off on top of the car where he is joined by chorus girls clad in pink with pink wigs while his other number with the girls is "Nice Work" where Bobby realizes he must return to Nevada and claim Polly again. He shows off his excellent baritone voice in his solos which include "Things Are Looking Up" when he falls in love with Polly and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" where he leaves Polly to return to New York. Sean's most comic moments come when Bobby disguises himself as the famous producer Zangler to make Polly fall in love with him. He is hilarious and the duet "What Causes That?" with Ira Denmark who plays the real Zangler perfectly with a Hungarian accent and haughty manner is a showstopper. It is reminiscent of an old Marx brothers routine with mirror images of each other while they are both dressed alike and are both drunk. Ira has a strong voice which is finally heard in this number. His character acting is superb, too. (Zangler is a parody of Ziegfeld. ) Laurie Hymes plays Polly beautifully. (a beautiful brunette in real life but in the show wears a strawberry blonde wig which reminds you of a young Ginger Rogers.) She is topnotch in this role, showing she is a triple threat performer. Laurie gives this girl a backbone to stand up to a town full of men but also shows her feminine side when she falls in love and sings her sentiments in the poignant "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Not For Me" which bring tears to your eyes. Laurie dances up a storm with Sean in "Shall We Dance" done in front of a star studded backdrop and she belts out the show stopping "I Got Rhythm" to the crowd and leads the dancers in an energetic tap dance that leaves the audience cheering for more. Laurie handles the comic moments with ease especially in "Embraceable You" when she pursues Bobby while he is disguised as Bela Zangler.

Not only are the dancers superb but the character acting in this show is wonderful, too. John Baker plays Polly's sweet father (who does an Irish jig in "Stiff Upper Lip") and Kay Francis plays Bobby's bitchy mother( with a voice like Tallulah Bankhead) who wind up with each other by the end of the show. Andreas De Rond is a hoot as the loudmouth, dumb barkeep, Lank. His overbearing behavior gets tamed by Bobby's ex-fiancee played by Chelsea Witiak. She gets to sing "Naughty Baby" to Lank while hogtying him during it and does a dance with a quartet of the boys. Chelsea's Irene transforms Lank into a French chef by the time the show in Deadrock has become a big hit and marries him, too. The head chorine, Tess is played perfectly by Lauren Graham. She helps Bobby with his schemes, helps him put the show together in the west and finally tames the roving eye of the real Bela. The other head chorus girl, Patsy is played by the fantastic dancer, Kari Floberg who is a gorgeous brunette but has to wear a short blonde wig in the show. Her dumb blonde character is hilarious with her crazy antics including running out to the bathroom through the audience before they can have a town meeting. Another funny segment is "Slap That Bass" where the supposedly clumsy dancer Moose, Matthew Wagner, the tallest guy in town is told to learn to play the instrument because he can't dance. The boys and girls do a dance with ropes to become string basses. He, Richard Cerato and Nick Nelson sing the slow version of "I'm Bidin' My Time" in Act 1 and the French version uptempo in Act 2. So for a fabulous rendition of a Gershwin musical be sure to catch "Crazy for You". Just tell them Tony said you'd be crazy to miss this show!! (Press night isn't complete without the delicious after the show buffet in the restaurant adjoining the theatre, Bistro by the Sea. It is prepared by Duane Crowe and his lovely wife, Karleen. Some of the scrumptious food included chicken lo mein, chicken salad, the hugest strawberries I have ever seen and cherry squares.) The after the show cabaret is hosted by Wayne Alan Hawkins in his Sabrina Blaze persona. He performs several numbers in the cabaret including "Wilkommen", "A Little More Mascara" while he transforms himself into Sabrina, "Hard Hearted Hannah", "Hello, Dolly" complete with red dress and Carol Channing impersonation and his finale of "I Am What I am". Wayne does a fabulous job as the Emcee and tells many risque anecdotes to (Performers from the show included Ira Denmark who sings "Circle of Life" and "Mrs. Jacobsky", Nate Suggs who played Roger Debris in "The Producers" sang "I Must be in Love', Kate Arthur who plays Patricia Fodor in the show opposite Nate sings a jazzy number called "Orange Colored Hue" (They have a hilarious song in the show called "Stiff Upper Lip" where the whole cast does a splendid song and dance routine to it with the cast piling the chairs on top of each other with Sean waving a red flag which is reminiscent of "Les Miserables" with a reference to a French show in the script. Richard Cerato sings a sentimental song about his father called "A Dream", Matthew Meigs touching ballad is "My Lucy's Laugh" and Nick Nelson describes a comic love relationship gone wrong called "In Short" where he hope his lover has horrible things happen to them.)

"Crazy for You" (17 June - 12 July)
364 Cards Pond Road, MATUNUCK RI
1(401) 782-TKTS

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide