Crazy for You

The New Gershwin Musical

Crazy for You-The New Gershwin Musical

 

Music & Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin

Book by Ken Ludwig

Directed by William Pullinsi

Music Direction by William A. Underwood

Choreographed by Linda Fortunato

At The Theatre at the Center

Near perfect production of a fabulous Broadway musical

Director Bill Pullinsi is a master craftsman who specializes in recreating remounts of classic Broadway musicals. He first mounted Crazy for You at the old Candlelight Diner Theatre and now at The Theatre at the Center in Munster. His fabulous production of  George & Ira Gershwin’s tunes,  set upon Ken Ludwig’s charming, witty and hilarious book, becomes Crazy for You–the winner of the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical.  Pullinsi’s production is energetic, funny, well sung and superbly danced. It is everything one could ask in a traditional Broadway musical comedy.

Crazy for You--the new Gershwin muiscal
Crazy for You–The New Gershwin Musical

In his 1992 review in The New York Times,theatre critic  Frank Rich enthused, “When future historians try to find the exact moment at which Broadway finally rose up to grab the musical back from the British, they just may conclude that the revolution began last night. The shot was fired at the Shubert Theater, where a riotously entertaining show called Crazy for You uncorked the American musical’s classic blend of music, laughter, dancing, sentiment and showmanship with a freshness and confidence rarely seen during the Cats decade . . . Crazy for You scrapes away decades of cabaret and jazz and variety-show interpretations to reclaim the Gershwins’ standards, in all their glorious youth, for the dynamism of the stage.”

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I agree with Rich’s assessment of Crazy for You–it has one of the finest scores of all-time and it contains an outstanding book by Ken Ludwig that has cute situations, witty one-liners and colorful winning characters caught up in a classic romantic fable.  The show ran for four years on Broadway and it has become a staple of regional theatre due to its funny book and great music.

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Larry Adams and Richard Strimer

We meet Bobby Chid (Richard Strimer in a tour de force performance) who desires is to be a singer/dancer on Broadway. He ends up in Nevada where he falls in love with Polly Baker (the terrific Amy Brophy).  Bobby is in Nevada to foreclose on a theatre owned by Polly and her father Everett (Jim Sherman). Bobby concocts a scheme to put on a Broadway show in order to raise the money to save the theatre. But Polly realizes that Bobby is the guy sent to close the theatre, she doesn’t trust him. Bobby discusses himself as Bela Zangle, the Broadway producer in order to save the theatre and, hopefully, win Polly’s heart.

When the real Bela Zangler (Larry Adams) arrives in Nevada, Bobby’s plans get complicated. The wacky plot produces many funny moments and many glamorous show stopping numbers. From the opening “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” tap number, to the romantic “Shall We Dance” duet with Bobby and Polly, to the rhymthic “Slap That Base,” and the high-energy act ending tap anthem “I Got Rhythm,” Crazy for You delivers toe-tapping songs, belly laughs that’ ll make you smile.  Gershwin tunes such as “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Embraceable You,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “But Not Fro Me” will tug at your heart strings.

Linda Fortunato’s choreography was zesty and exuberant as she gets her dancers to tap away in six fabulous tap numbers culminating in the manic bouncy “I Get Rhythm”–one of greatest tap numbers of all-time.

Amy Brophy sings and dances Polly with aplomb while she deftly nails the Gershwin torch songs with heart. Gershwin’s standards are in good hands here. Matthew Amador, as Lank Hawkin and Lauren Creel, as Irene offered nice supporting work. William Underwood’s orchestre did justice to the Gershwin score.

Ultimately, Crazy for You is Bobby’s show and Richard Strimer is perfect as the charming want-to-be Broadway sings/dancer. Strimer demonstrates his terrific dancing–he effortlessly taps up a storm–while aptly landing his physical comic chops in several scenes–highlighted by the hilarious duet, “What Causes That” with Larry Adams. Both Zangler and Bobby as Zangler meet face-to-face in the bar.  They mimic each other’ s movements while singing a lament to their lost loves. Richard Strimer displays his triple-threat talent as Bobby making his performance a most memorable one.

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Crazy for You is a modern take on the classical Broadway format that weaves many of the greatest songs of the 2oth Century by the Gershwin’s with outrageous humor, excellent singing and spectacular tap dancing. Bill Pullinsi’s ensemble worked hard in total respect for the material and it shows. Crazy for You is worth the ride out to Munster. The sheer joy of this family friendly entertainment will have you saying: “Who could ask for anything more?” This production of Crazy for You reminds me why I love musicals. I can’t think of another musical better suited to introduce young people to the joy of a Broadway musical comedy.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Jeff Recommended

At the Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN,  Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2 pm,  Fridays at 8 pm,  Sundays at 2:30 pm,  select Thursdays at 7:30 pm and Saturdays at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes with intermission, through June 14, 2009