Crazy For You At The Gillian Lynne Theatre
Crazy For You is the epitome of a golden age musical style production. In Crazy For You we meet Bobby Childs backstage at the Zangler Follies begging for a role in the show. Instead Bobby is told by his mother to go to Deadrock to foreclose on a run down theatre. In true musical theatre style things don’t go according to plan as whilst he is there he falls for Polly, the daughter of the theatre owner and he comes up with a scheme to both save the theatre and to convince Polly that he is the man for her.
Whilst the show itself is too recent to be a golden age musical it ticks all the boxes that makes this styles of shows so popular. The show is an updated version of Girl Crazy and so uses the Gershwin songs from the show as well as other sources, including Embraceable You, I Got Rhythm, Shall We Dance and Slap That Bass. Whilst the music harks back to the golden area perfectly, the book, whilst humorous feels frothy and indistinguishable from many of the musicals it seeks to imitate. Often the story is moulded to ensure that some of Gershwin’s best numbers are able to feature but the strength of the numbers means I forgive them for this.
Choreographed (and directed) by Susan Stroman the dance is the highlight of the show. With impressive tap routines through to stunning ballroom dances this cast perform each number with precision, flair and even a little of the unexpected.
Charlie Stemp plays Bobby Childs and the golden boy of musical theatre is at home in this golden age style show. His dance ability has been proven previously and Crazy For You Is no exception. However Stemp not only succeeds on the dance floor but with the physical humour needed to play Childs. In scenes where he is imitating Zangler or playing drunk his body looks as if it is made out of elastic.
Carly Anderson is the perfect partner for Stemp as Polly. She is feisty and her gumption reminds me a a Calamity Jane type and her dance as Ginger Rogers. Together Anderson and Stemp make a fantastic leading duo. Irene, Child’s fiance is played by Natalie Kassanga. Whilst her part of the show is superfluous it does bring us her rendition of Slap That Bass which is a showstopper of a number and Kassanga exercises a real command of the stage. Other notable performances are that of Tom Edden as Bela Zangler, who when joined on stage with Stemp, give us a masterclass between them in physical comedy.
The set designed y Beowulf Boritt works well for the production although the highlights were the additional details such as the revolving proscenium front that allowed the show girls to appear and the centre core of the stage that rose beautifully out of the haze during a ballroom dance number. The set combined with the lavish costumes designed by William Ivey Long really helped elevate the show to something special visually.
If you are a fan of Golden age musicals then Crazy For You is a must see. Whilst the story is tried, tested and maybe slightly tired the vision in front of you from the choreography to the costumes is worth a trip to the Gillian Lynne alone.
Crazy For You is currently running at The Gillian Lynne Theatre until January 2024. For more information and to book tickets visit their website here.