Showtime Challenge Presents Crazy For You
Music and Lyrics by George And Ira Gershwin. Book by Ken Ludwig
In aid of www.cecilysfund.org
London Palladium, Argyll Street, London. W1F 7TF
Review: Geoff Ambler 18th October 2009.
Nearly 200 cast, creatives and musicians go Crazy for Cecily’s Fund
This was the fourth of the now annual Showtime Challenges. A unique event on the London musical theatre calendar, the production team set themselves the challenge of rehearsing and putting on a show in just forty eight hours. One concession allows the cast to receive the script and music in advance so they arrive hopefully book perfect, but they still have direction, blocking, choreography, tech and dress rehearsals and all this is with one of the largest casts assembled.
After eight hundred applicants were auditioned they were whittled down to a mere 134 performers. Professionals, graduates, students and talented others, they all share one main attribute; an overriding sense of fun. Possibly also a complete lack of fear, a little craziness and a lot of caffeine is also required.
This year’s show was in aid of Cecily’s Fund, a charity supporting Zambian children, orphaned by AIDS and inspired by Cecily, a gap year student who tragically died while working in a school club for orphans. www.cecilysfund.org
Director Katherine Hare achieves astounding results from her cast and creatives, all on just a few hours sleep over the weekend. Crazy For You was an ideal choice for such a large cast and its twenty one dance numbers afford Racky Plews every opportunity to dazzle with a Palladium full of choreography. I Got Rhythm builds seemingly forever to a crescendo of massed kick-lines, clapping, stamping, singing and tapping ensemble wondrousness; Naughty Baby is possibly Plews’ funniest number ever, all clumsy seduction cloaked in unbridled passion.
Spellbinding leads Sam Harrison and Hayley Emma Otway are the destined to be lovers Bobby and Polly. Both give dazzling performances worthy of any full Crazy production, on any stage in Theatreland; although there is so much fun packed into and delivered by this one off charity show that it is a shame it won’t be repeated. Fantastic music, one liners, wit and tap dancing abound and while you arrive expecting chaos they deliver only musical delight.
Rather than excuse the production quality (which really needs no excusing) the knowledge that they only had forty eight hours to create this show only amplifies the magnitude of their collective achievement. It is no wonder so many apply, rarely does something so worthy spring forth from having so much fun. Bring on number five!
Producer: Ian Haig
Director: Katherine Hare
Musical Director: Leigh Thompson
Choreographer: Racky Plews
Set Designer: Hilary Statts
Costume Designer: Sheara Abrahams
Lighting Designer: Michael Nabarro
Graphic Designer: Joe Roukin