An enthusiastic cast leads “Crazy for You” to energetic heights in the current production at the SCERA Showhouse.
Full of singing, dancing, and lots of singing ABOUT dancing, “Crazy for You” features a ’90s script by Ken Ludwig mixed with timeless songs by George and Ira Gershwin (“Embraceable You,” “I’ve Got Rhythm,” etc.).
The story hearkens back to the old days of Broadway musicals, with a simple romantic plot mixed with mistaken identities and a fervent desire among the characters to put together a show. Bobby Child (David Whitlock, also director) is a New York City banker who doesn’t like his job or his fiancee, Irene (Celine Morton). What he wants to do is dance.
He’s sent out to Deadrock, Nev., to foreclose on an old theater. There he falls in love with the only woman in town, Polly Baker (Melinda Stailey), a spitfire of a gal who don’t take no guff from no one — especially not New York bankers who want to shut down her daddy’s theater.
Bobby is sincere in his desire to put on a show that would revitalize the place and save it from foreclosure, but Polly doesn’t trust him. So he impersonates the great Broadway producer Bela Zangler, brings in his old dancing-girl pals from the Big Apple, and puts together a show. Naturally, Polly falls in love with “Bela,” not realizing it’s really Bobby.
When the real Bela (Mark Pulham) shows up, along with the incensed Irene, well, that’s when things really get nutty.
The dancing in this show is fantastic. Choreographed by Carlos Encinias and led by Whitlock and the fabulous cast of nine dancing girls, the big numbers are BIG, with enough tap dancing to shake the rafters. Numbers like “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” and “I Got Rhythm” are memorable for their sheer energy, if nothing else.
Stailey shines as Polly, with a beautiful voice that matches her character. Many actresses would play her as a rough-and-tumble cowgirl, and then start singing like Celine Dion when the music starts, but Stailey manages to blend her beautiful voice with the character.
The jokes are broad and vaudevillian. (“He’ll go to Deadrock over my dead body!” says Irene. “That sounds like a good route to me!” replies Bobby’s mother.) Some actors make the slapsticky humor work for them, notably Morton as Irene and David Morton (filling in for Rodney Elwood) as Lank, the “bad guy” in Deadrock. They have only one major scene together, but it’s a highlight of the show.
Bob Colomb and Jen Pope as a couple of British tourists, on the other hand, are too over-the-top with their characters. The best humor comes when you don’t seem to be trying for it, and they are clearly trying for it every chance they get.
Whitlock leads the cast steadily, singing and dancing well and keeping everything together. He presides over the show more than he stars in it, as the spotlight is often stolen by others. When he’s center stage, though, he shines as brightly as anyone.
The show is a treat to watch. It’s a difficult one to pull off — you gotta have great dancing — but SCERA does it just fine.
This has been one of my favorite shows ever since I first saw it, back in the early days of my theater-critic career, though I'm now beginning to notice flaws in it. They have the plucky, headstrong Polly singing "Someone to Watch over Me," for example, which not only doesn't fit her character, but which comes at a point in the show that seems out of place. I'm guessing they figured they CAN'T do a show with Gershwin songs without that one, so they just threw it in wherever they could.