‘Crazy for you’ was first performed in Broadway in 1930 under a different name ‘Girl Crazy’ and despite its success at the time, and its star-studded cast, it was the debut performance of a 19-year-old Ginger Rogers. When its revival came about in the 1990s a change was clearly needed; producers thought the old style cliched story would bore modern audiences so the plot was revised however the music by the famous Gershwin brothers remained. This musical is the definition of a ‘toe-tapper’ with catchy songs, such as ‘I’ve got rhythm’, and all music being played live makes it a real feel-good musical that keeps you entertained throughout even with a few dodgy American accents here and there.
The story follows Bobby Child, son of a rich banker widow and the US’s answer to Billy Elliot, who ultimately just wants to DANCE! He gets sent on a job to claim a mortgage payment from a rundown theatre in a desolate town in Nevada and, inevitably, falls in love. He proceeds to impersonate a theatre mogul, Zangler, to put on a show and save the theatre. This leads to its climax, and possibly the most humorous, slapstick scene in the whole musical, when the real Zangler arrives. Confusion and drama pursue in an attempt for Bobby to achieve his dream as a dancer and to get the girl.
The main draw to this production for many in the audience, in particular the lady across the row from me who whooped, cheered and slapped her leg whenever he came on, was Tom Chambers. The TV start from Holby City who turned his talent to dancing on Strictly Come Dancing, showed just why he had been chosen by dancing fervently from start to finish. Although I am usually quite cynical when it comes to celebrities in musicals, and he did appear quite cumbersome at times, his performance, and accent, did grow on me and he showed himself to be a proficient tap dancer. However, his co-star Caroline Flack was less impressive and did little to deserve the raucous applause she got at the end. She was not bad nor was she outstanding and the few minutes per act she was on stage were fine, but this only served to bolster my opinion of how unfair it can be for celebs to walk in and take a part that could have been performed much better by a trained performer. And this was truly shown by Charlotte Wakefield who was by far the star of the show. Her voice was powerful and effortless and really for most of the show you wished she would just keep singing alone. She had charisma in her effortless dance style and her part as a stubborn independent woman was humorous and refreshing. It was almost a shame at the end that had to lower her resilience and marry her off but then again it is a musical and they tend to avoid unhappy endings… well minus a few; looking at you Miss Saigon and Les Miserable.
The musicians in this production are incredibly talented, with each of them playing a variety of instruments to a high standard while dancing and lying on the floor. However the female musicians were required to dance more often than expected for a group of people who had clearly been selected for their musical talent and as a result there was a few falls out of line and missed steps. Yet it is hard to be too critical when they are displaying even more than the usually required ‘triple threat’.
Overall this was a joyous and lively performance that made for a good night out. While it may not be a musical you would return to again and again, due to the celebrity input, it was still full of everything you would love in an old-style, slapstick musical and left me humming the tunes the whole train ride home.
Tour dates: http://www.crazyforyoutour.com/