'Five Stars'! Evening Standard Review of Crazy For You Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
By Henry Hitchings
For The Evening Standard
"The world is in a mess," sings one character in Crazy for You, "with politics and taxes / And people grinding axes / There's no happiness."
Suitably glum words, some might say - and if right now you need a little summery escapism, look no further than this superb and for the most part uplifting musical.
With tunes by George Gershwin and lyrics by his brother Ira, it's a ripely entertaining piece. Ken Ludwig's book contains some zippy one-liners, and there's a lovely sense of showmanship throughout.
No one embodies this better than Sean Palmer. He plays Bobby Child, a rich young man from Manhattan who trundles off to Deadrock, a Nevada mining community described as "the armpit of the American West".
Posing as a noted impresario, Bobby brings music to the downtrodden citizens. In the process he seduces the only woman left in town, Polly Baker.
Played by Clare Foster, she's a tomboy who morphs into a romantic. The result is a deliberately improbable story of mistaken identity and musical redemption, and Timothy Sheader's production is full of youthful exuberance.
The leads are sublime: Palmer is suave but also warm, while Foster almost bursts with charm.
Around them there's razor-sharp ensemble work.
Stephen Mear's choreography is ingenious and polished, and the nine-piece band performs with gusto.
Sustaining a high level of poise and energy throughout, the show brims with a sassy joie de vivre that no unseasonal shower can dampen. In the words of the Gershwin classic I Got Rhythm, "Who could ask for anything more?"