Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust present the crème-de-la- crème of amateur talent in their latest production, Crazy For You.
Stepping back into the 1930s, at the time of the Great Depression, the story tells of Bobby Child (Chris Simmons) and his determination to succeed in show business. With big musical numbers (all of which are famous Gershwin songs), melodramatic personalities and a plot about the procedure of ‘putting on a show’, the piece adheres to all the conventions of the old revue musical.
The large ensemble impressively combines song, drama and eclectic styles of dance, to really capture the essence of the era.
Choreography, by London trained Kate Cobb, is a real crowd-pleaser and the cast, on the whole, do it real justice. However, there are moments, especially in the first act, when tap could be more synchronised with music and dancers could be more polished in their unison work. Furthermore, accents and facial expressions are extremely believable, especially those of actor Gareth Casey-Morris (playing Bella Zangler), whose grasp of declamatory techniques are by far the strongest.
Musical numbers vary in strength, most being in need of more harmonic work to make Gershwin’s simple melodies that little bit more interesting. Nonetheless, Linzi Stefanov (Polly Baker) never fails in making you smile, her beautiful tone of voice in the songs ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and ‘But Not For Me’ being an absolute joy to listen too. ‘I Got Rhythm’ also provides a stand-out moment, the energy of the routine and brilliant use of props creating a sense of fun and ending the first half on a high.
The rapport between Simmons and Morris in ‘What Causes That’ is thoroughly entertaining, the direction of Elsie Kelly working wonders in this scene. Mirroring each other’s movements and bouncing off each other’s behaviour, the pair portrays the difficulties of falling in love so humorously that it would not be out of place in a professional show.
It is frequent problems with microphones and a hitch with lighting at the back of the stalls that unfortunately let the production down.
Also, if I were to be really picky, I would prefer to see cast members doing the set transitions, rather than crew in their blacks, to enhance the revue style, give the piece even more liveliness and heighten its professionalism.
Despite minor flaws, BOST ultimately promises a night of stunning live music, plenty of feel-good moments and beautiful costumes and scenery- really, who could ask for anything more?
- Rebecca Cohen