Crazy for You

Last Saturday’s rain turned out to be very beneficial, as far as I’m concerned.

I was watching “Crazy for You,” the ’90s musical full of old George and Ira Gershwin songs, at the Scera Shell Outdoor Theatre. Near the end of the first act, it started to rain. And what with all the heavy-duty dancing on the now-slick stage, not to mention the microphones and other electrical equipment sitting around, they had to cancel the show after intermission.

So I got to go back Monday and see the whole thing again, for free.

“Crazy for You” is the kind of energetic, jubilant show that you want to see over and over again. The Gershwins wrote some of the catchiest, most cleverly rhymed songs of this century (“I Got Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch over Me,” “Embraceable You”), and Ken Ludwig’s dialogue is snappy and hilarious. Syd Riggs, Cathy Black and Jennifer Webb direct the cast in such a way that every member acts, dances and sings like a professional, even though only a few of them are. The mark of a good musical is when you walk away from it feeling like a million bucks, like nothing could go wrong, and you stay that way for the rest of the night. “Crazy for You” is just such a musical.

Jake Fry, an extraordinarily talented Music/Dance/Theater major at BYU, plays Bobby Child, a New York banker who wants to be a Broadway dancer. He gets sent to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on an old theater, but instead falls in love with its owner, Polly, played with beautiful aplomb by Britani Bateman. Polly loves him too, until she finds out who he is. He wants to save the theater, though, not repossess it, so he impersonates the great director Bela Zangler, calls his dancing girl friends in from New York, and cobbles together a show, using the local cowboys as singers and dancers.

It’s the sort of plot that can only work in a musical. If we’re going to accept townspeople bursting into song, we might as well accept a guy putting on a fake beard and making everyone think he’s somebody else.

Though the dialogue was written in the ’90s, it often seems like old vaudeville stuff, with exchanges like: “You haven’t seen the end of me!” “If it’s anything like the front, I don’t want to see it.” And: “I haven’t seen so much excitement since my horse foaled.” “Gee, it must be hard to fold a horse.” Or, my favorite: “He’ll go to Nevada over my dead body!” “That seems like a pretty good route to me!” Everything is fast-paced, energetic, and fun. The plot is full of conflicts, but they’re never life-or-death, or even very serious. The show exists solely to entertain, and that it does.

Audiences want to feel like they would enjoy being friends with the stars, so it’s important to the show’s success that the stars be likable. Fry and Bateman are abundantly likable, he with his baby-faced sweetness and she with her feisty-but-still-ladylike demeanor, and this helps the show immensely.

Every aspect of “Crazy for You” is well done, even down to the ingenious, multi-functional set pieces and the orchestra, which is comprised solely of volunteers.

Do yourself a favor and see this show. It’s outdoors, so dress accordingly, and bring a blanket to sit on. (You can also rent chairs, for $1 apiece.) The gates open at 7 p.m., and you should get there about then to ensure getting a good spot on the grass. The show begins at 8, and tickets are $7.

It only runs through Saturday, though, so don’t put it off. (Bad pun coming.) It would be “crazy for you” to miss it. (Bad pun complete.)

I hated myself for making that joke at the end, but I couldn't resist.

This was, officially, the second show I'd seen for the Daily Herald. The first was "Harvey," and it wasn't very good, and I was afraid that's what community theater was all about. Then I saw "Crazy for You" and felt much relieved.