Creating a fabulous musical show and falling in love sounds like nice work if you can get it, and you can certainly see a show where the characters do just that in Signature Theatre’s production of The Gershwins’ and Kent Ludwig’s Crazy for You. This show is a twinkly, frothy concoction, guaranteed to leave you dancing through the holiday season.
Crazy for You tells the story of Bobby Child a young, tap-dancing bank employee who finds adventure and romance on his journey west to foreclose on a theater. While there he discovers Polly Baker, the beautiful and fiery daughter of the theater’s former star. Through a series of twists and turns, which are delightfully peppered with mistaken identity, humor and of course rock’em, sock’em musical numbers; the audience is transported back into a journey not unlike the Mickey Rooney films joked about in the script. Crazy for You is for the most part truly amusing and even uplifting, but some of the humor does suffer from seeming dreadfully “asleep” to the problems of sexual harassment. In a post-Weinstein world it doesn’t really seem funny to have male characters grabbing a female characters chest. Also, the song “Naught Baby” feels out of step with the rest of the show. Where other songs feel buoyant or tender, it just feels coarse and empty.
Some of the best parts of Signature Theatre’s production of Crazy For You are the performances. Danny Gardner is an amazing hoofer and elastically entertaining as Bobby Child. Ashley Spencer is a most earnest and radiant Polly Baker, able to break your heart with her winsome smile. Cole Burden portrays a rough and tumble Western saloon owner that’s also surprisingly very witty. Sherri L. Edelen (Cake Off) is hilarious in her two roles of Mother and Patricia Fodor. Thomas Adrian Simpson is completely unrecognizable switching between his two roles Sam and Eugene Fodor. Bobby Smith (Spin, Freaky Friday) as Bela Zangler is sophisticated, witty and perfect as always. Maria Rizzo and Colleen Hayes truly steal the show in their roles as Tess and Patsy. Where Patsy is dull, Tess is sharp and both carry their parts with the oomph and allure of a whole trainload of Follies showgirls.
This Matthew Gardiner directed spectacle is easy on the eyes with fun choreography by Denis Jones and easy on the ears with live music from musical director and conductor Jon Kalbfleisch. But what I truly adored about Crazy for You where the costumes! Whether it was showgirl sparkles or Polly’s country but chicly simple dresses, the costumes by Tristan Raines were fantastic. Be prepared for a stunning follies finale that truly will take your breath away. The wigs, designed by Leah Loukas are also truly inspirational. I immediately wanted to come home and figure out how to make my hair look like the girls in Crazy For You.
If you’re looking for a way to inject some extra sparkle and shine into your holiday season make sure to check our Crazy for You! Just don’t be surprised if you dance all the way home!
Kari Liked: Ashley Spencer is a true star with Maria Rizzo and Colleen Hayes also shining. The costumes are gorgeous and I would stock my own closet from them. I’m still singing “Embraceable You” days later.
Kari Didn’t Like: The sexist humor and the song “Naughty Baby” just felt…wrong.
In the times we live in, the shows that connect with me the most are the ones that seem the most sincere and hearken back to what feel like better days. One such show, Crazy For You, is currently playing at Signature Theatre. Crazy For You is largely based on the stage musical Girl Crazy, but includes songs from other shows in the Gershwin catalogue as well.
With the songs being provided by George and Ira Gershwin, the music was going to be fabulous. The promise of these great songs was fully met by Jon Kalbfleisch and the rest of the performers that provided the live accompaniment (one of the things I always love about Signature Theatre’s shows). The cast also used these songs for all they were worth. “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Embraceable You” were both sung with such earnestness that they now have taken on new meaning for me. “Slap that Bass” was such a great performance of a transformation vignette brought to stage that I was left with no doubts about the skills of supposed “no talent” performers.
The wonderful music provided a great backdrop for some really funny and memorable writing. It was a joy to experience. The other technical elements shined too. Kudos especially go out to Tristan Raines in designing the costumes that were so pitch perfect to the piece as a whole and almost entirely authentic to the time period.
The actor’s performances impressed me a lot on this show. Danny Gardner has so much energy he could power a small city. His smile and pluckiness were just mesmerizing, and his tap dancing in “Nice Work if You Can Get It” and “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” were astonishing. His singing was also great through the whole performance and I loved how he handled playing two different characters.
Not to be outdone, Ashley Spencer delivered a performance with a lot of depth and heart that surely will work as an audition for the upcoming stage version of La La Land. (Can’t you just see her as Mia?) Her singing and dancing were astounding and her chemistry with Danny was magical.
That’s not to say the rest of the cast didn’t do well. All of them delivered great performances, and I especially loved Bobby Smith and his dancing, and Sherri Edelen, who played two different upper crust characters in totally different and unique ways.
The only thing I didn’t like was the character of Irene Roth and her big song “Naughty Baby.” Natascia Diaz did a great job with the character as written, but this is just one of the flaws of the script. You could edit out that character entirely and it would change nothing about the show, which makes her number “Naughty Baby” which is more risqué than the rest of the show, entirely superfluous.
Overall, this is a great show, and I enjoyed it so much. I can’t wait to see it again.
RJ Liked: The tap dancing and the great music were my favorite parts
RJ Didn’t Like: The character of Irene Roth, especially “Naughty Baby.”
Make sure to get tickets to Signature Theatre’s production of Crazy for You now! For more information and to purchase tickets click here to view Signature Theatre’s website. Tickets are going fast and you don’t want to miss this show.
(We were provided with complimentary media tickets for this performance, however all opinions are our own.)