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Crazy for You

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Bobby Child is a poor little rich boy from a New York banking family who has showbusiness ambitions. Unable to persuade theatrical impresario, Bela Zangler, to take him on as a song and dance man, he is sent to Deadrock, Nevada by his dragon-mother to foreclose on a rundown theatre. Charmed by the building and its proprietor, Polly, he throws himself into making a show which will pay the mortgage, bringing in Zangler’s chorus girls to teach the local cowboys how to shake a leg, and showing more enterprise than his mother or fiancée at home could ever imagine.

When Polly finds out that Bobby has the power to be the theatre’s nemesis, she spurns him, so he disguises himself as Zangler, and Polly falls for him that way. Meanwhile, Bobby’s sour-puss fiancée (an electric Natalie Lipin) turns up, and when he tells her they’re over, she seduces the macho hotel owner Lank Hawkins (James Wolstenholme). When the real Zangler arrives, on a quest for the chorus girl he adores, love is everywhere, and comedy around mistaken identity and saloon-bar horseplay abounds.

Crazy for You premiered on Broadway in 1992, but given its use of Gershwin songs and classic American feel-good story (by Ken Ludwig), you would be forgiven for taking it for a genuine 1930’s musical. Ovation Theatre at The Gatehouse have mirrored Bobby’s chutzpah and brought a big show to a fringe venue, with very pleasurable results. For the performers there’s nowhere to hide – we can see every bead of sweat - but the occasional foot wrong seems only loveable in a show brimming with exuberance and sweetness.

The cast are a stage-full of charmers. Jay Rincon as Bobby, and Ceili O'Connor as Polly anchor proceedings with aplomb; the dopey cowboys who become ace hoofers at the hands of the twittering showgirls provoke many chuckles. Choreographer Grant Murphy makes a fine job of the company numbers in particular, and songs such as “I Got Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” are a reminder of the genius of the Gershwin brothers. A lovely interpretation of a knockout show, and a proper Christmas treat.

-by Alison Goldie


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