CRAZY FOR YOU
Music & Lyrics by George & Ira Gershwin
Book by Ken Ludwig
Stratford Circus Arts Centre, Theatre Square, London E15 1BX – 22-23 June 2018.
Runs 2hr 20 mins One interval.
A Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance final year students production.
Review: William Russell 22 June.
Glorious Big Band sound and lots of energy
This 1992 Tony and Olivier award winning musical crafted by Ken Ludwig on the Gershwin’s 1930 show Girl Crazy incorporates lots of songs they wrote for other musicals and is an ideal end of term display piece for students. Although the leading man gets most of the songs everyone gets a chance to shine. This staging is brash, energetic and hopefully will lead to agents taking an interest in the participants.
The performances are good, but the best about it was the band, 24 strong and doing full justice to the Gershwin tunes although slight reservations about how But Not For Me was performed – it was belted out and it should be wistful. The plot is simple. Mad about musicals banker Bobby Child (Christian Andrews) is sent to foreclose on a derelict theatre in a one horse town in Nevada and falls for the owner’s daughter Polly (Ella-Jane Thomas). But she will have nothing to do with him so he pretends to be the famous Follies producer Bela Zangler (David McNair) and invites some friends from the Follies to help stage a musical show to save the theatre. Then the real Bela turns up.
The joke is that Polly falls for the fake Bela and cannot distinguish between the two, although given that one is over six feet tall and the other a good foot less her eyesight is clearly not very good. It is a reasonable joke casting but I am uncertain about giving Bela a gray beard as it makes him, real or fake, not quite any girl’s dream man although it proves funny when the fake beard keeps falling off. Ms Thomas has a nice clear voice and to her credit coped splendidly when her throat mike failed revealing she could still hit the back wall of the theatre. The lanky Mr Andrews does a nice line in tap dancing, and has a decent gift for comedy. A few more singing lessons to get that baritone a little less scratchy and all would be well.
The show girls were lissom and danced well, the cowboy trio warbled tunefully, the production did not flag –although crammed with great songs the plot really is tosh – and the ensemble opened Act Two with a rousing version of The Real American Folksong. As a showcase it could really not be bettered.
Bobby Child: Christian Andrews.
Bela Zangler: David McNair.
Everett Baker: Jonathan Barakat.
Lank Hawkins: Harvey Westwood.
Polly Baker: Ella-Jane Thomas.
Irene Roth: Martha Burke.
Eugene Fodor: Michael Karl-Lewis.
|Patricia Fodor: Danielle Whittaker.
Mrs Child: Simone Sullivan.
Tess: Becky Stockley.
Patsy: Clara Ennis.
Mitzi: Johanna Pearson-Farr.
Elaine: Rebecca Wickes.
Louise: Molly Osborne.
Susie/Betsy: Martha Burke.
Moose: Phillip Murch.
Mingo: Alex West.
Sam: Daniel-Thomas Forster.
Ensemble: Elric Doswell; Claire Keenan; Lauren Poulson; Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy; Simone Sullivan
Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy played Polly; Martha Burke played Irene; Eliza Roadnight played Susie/Betsy at some performances.
Director: Sarah Redmond.
Musical Director: Tony Castro.
Choreographer: Anthony Whiteman.
Set & Costume Design: Amy Yardley.
Lighting Designer: Jack Weir.
Sound Designer: Chris Tanton.
Production photograph: © Lidia Crisafulli.