Posts Tagged ‘Crazy for you’

Review – Crazy for You – Novello Theater

December 15, 2011

Usually, when I go see shows I want to know as little as possible about them. This was hardly possible for Crazy for You, which I just saw this summer at Regent’s Park. But when I was offered free tickets to see a show I loved more than any musical I’d seen all year, how could I say no? Tap dancing! Wonderful costumes! Great songs and a light-hearted plot! I was more than pleased to see how the transfer had done now that it was all set up in the Novello Theater.

So, story: Bobby, a banker with dreams of dancing on the Great White Way, leaves behind New York and his friends at the Zangler Follies to go to Deadrock, Nevada, under orders from his mom to repossess a theater there. He falls in love with Polly, the theater owners daughter, who rejects him when she figures out he’s from the bank. As for the rest of it … well, it has a happy ending, and the rest is too much fun to reveal in my review.

I’m pleased to say that all of the energy of the original show is still there, and that the lack of a lovely sunset is more than compensated for by the removal of the terror of an evening squall. This time, I knew what to expect: this is not a musical where the songs really move the story forward, but more a show with musical numbers that provide an excuse for some truly outstanding dancing. And the end of act one, “I Got Rhythm,” just had me completely wound up as the tension got higher and higher and the tenuous connection with reality shot away like a balloon slipping its tether. Do cowboys play the bass fiddle? Is it possible to dance on a trash can lid? Thanks to the power of A Darn Fine Show, these silly concerns of “reality based theater watching” were no longer relevant. It all happened because it had to happen, because the girl needed to fall in love with the guy and the whole thing was just going to have to have a happy ending somehow. I gave up my criticizing and just went with the flow. It was lovely!

The second act had the number I’d most like to perform myself (“Naughty Baby”) and a great comedy moment with Bobby and Zangler as two drunks thinking they’re seeing their mirror image. However, there was a bit too long of an energy gap while Bobby and Polly were trying to figure out just where they should be (together, in New York, etc), which makes me think that about 10 minutes of the show (and Polly’s number “”But Not For Me”) should probably go just to keep it tight. But it all came together in the most amazing finale that was right out of the Busby Berkeley musicals I love – and right on stage in front of me. Wow. It was still just fantastic, the perfect cure for a London winter, a musical so full of joy you have to just give in and enjoy yourself. In some ways, it seems like something I could go see regularly, on Fridays after work, or just after a particularly down day when I wanted a pick me up. And I suppose I can, if I want to, since it’s booking through July 2012.

(This review is for a performance that took place on November 29th, 2011.)

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Review – Crazy for You – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

August 23, 2011

So … take a handful of familiar Hollywood musical tropes (the “We’ve got a barn, let’s have a show!” one, plus “He’s in love with a girl who hates him,” “I can dance and I want to be a star,” and several others), deal in a stack of unrelated songs from one of best songwriting duos (George & Ira Gershwin) of America’s golden age, shuffle in a delicious yet unfashionable series of tap dancing numbers, dress it all in glitter and sequins, and what do you have? Crazy for You at Regent’s Park Open Air Theater, which sounds like it should be a giant mess, but in fact, just totally, totally works.

Structurally speaking, the pastiche element of this show, in which various songs from the Gershwin catalogue are used to illustrate the plot, is the worst thing about it. The best musicals have songs that are inseparably woven with story and character so that in listening to them, you are further illuminated about the singer or the themes of the show (or both) or the plot. But while I regretted this missing element, I couldn’t deny the songwriting genius that raised these pop drops far above most modern musicals’ attempts to add their shot to the canon. They were a treat to listen to and they were delivered with winning style.

As for the story, well, it’s about a young New York banker (Sean Palmer) who dreams of being a star on the Great White Way but instead finds himself trying to save a failing theater in Deadrock, Nevada, to win the love of its owner’s daughter, Polly (Clare Foster). I, however, was won over pretty much from the moment Bobby’s mom starts yelling at him over the phone, delivering the unforgettable line, “What’s that noise I hear? It’s not … tap dancing?!?” Yes, it was tap dancing, from Ziegfield folly-esque girls in figure-hugging, tinsel-trimmed dresses, returning minutes later as Busby Berkeley chorines with long blue gloves, fluffy chiffon on their butts, and shoes that were ready to move.

Oh my, the dancing. And the dancing! And the singing! And the entirely historically inaccurate cowboys, and the Maxfield Parrish sky behind the trees, and the number with the bass fiddle, and the one with the teacups, and why were there velvet majorette outfits EVER in Nevada in the summer, but OH the dancing! And then the dialogue was just damned funny and shoot me if the costumes weren’t gorgeous to distraction and the sets amazingly effective. And dancing!

I’m trying so hard to be critical, but I’m failing. In the very last scene, as Polly and Bobby dance their love away to the audience and the final showgirl comes on stage and raises her arms to make a silver circle spread out behind and around her while giant stars played across the stage, by God I got teared up, it was all just so perfect. The evening was sheer, unadultered joy and my jaded little heart was broken by its loveliness. This is gonna be the one show of the year I want to go back and see again and again.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Monday, August 22nd, 2011. Last performance is September 10th.)