You'll be 'Crazy for Crazy for You!'
By Sally Applegate/Correspondent
Thusday, May 03, 2007
Malden -Once you finish laughing at the hilarious talking moose head that introduces the show and marveling at the stunning Gershwin melodies of the overture, you’re going to be taken in by the innovative choreography of director/choreographer Richard Stafford, who did last year’s wonderful production of “Singin’ in the Rain.”
You’ll be crazy for “Crazy for You,” North Shore Music Theatre’s take on the 1992 Tony-award-winning “Gershwin musical.” It’s an energetic nonstop frenzy of great Gershwin tunes, fabulous dancing, outrageous physical comedy and glorious costumes by William Ivy Long and Joanna E. Murphy.
The elegant ’30s costumes in the Manhattan scenes take viewers back to old New Yorker magazine covers, and are accompanied by wonderfully quirky body movements and choreography.
Stafford fills North Shore’s modest-sized circular arena stage with so many dancers doing so many wonderful things, and makes it look effortless. The dancers do intricate tap numbers on tiny desktops and even tinier metal pans. And what an ensemble he has to work with. These are wonderful dancers and singers, drifting effortlessly from one style to another as the show’s giddy plot takes us from downtown Manhattan to a sleepy mining town in Nevada where a twangy trio of miners nasal-tones “I’m Bidin’ My Time.”
Brilliant and believable in the central role of Bobby Child is the outstanding Jeffry Denman. That’s quite a trick — to be believable in this show’s deliberately arch and preposterous plot. His dancing is wonderful, and his acting heartfelt.
Denman seems to create a strangely dramatic tension in the space surrounding him with his body language. He is exceptionally gifted at physical comedy, and oh, what a singer — ranging from powerful clear tones and perfectly delivered lyrics to a wonderfully sweet voice in his softer moments.
Amanda Watkins is a dreamy dancer as Bobby’s love interest Polly Baker. She’s a pleasing singer and actress, with a low, relaxed speaking voice that plays well off Denman’s smitten character. She does a sensational job of holding high notes forever over the chorus during “I Got Rhythm.”
There are frantically funny exchanges of dialogue in Ken Ludwig’s clever script.
“I did not come here to be insulted.” “Oh? Where do you usually go?”
“He’ll go to Nevada over my dead body.” “That sounds like an excellent route.”
If you listen carefully to the dance music and background music, you’ll hear snatches of great Gershwin classics thrown in for emphasis now and then, including some of the “An American in Paris” ballet.
The show offers a feast of George and Ira Gershwin classics, like “Someone to Watch Over Me,”
“Embraceable You,” “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “But Not for Me,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and snatches of “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.”
The supporting cast features some outstanding voices as well as fun comedy performances. David Coffee as the real Bella Zangler, a Broadway producer, is featured in a fine comedy bit next to Denman as the unreal Bella Zangler. Coffee does some fine singing during this fun bit with his twin Zangler — and of course he has to say, “I’m so upset I’m beside myself.”
Lyn Philistine is sensual as Bobby’s jilted fiancée Irene, singing to seduce handsome Dan Amboyer as the villainous Lank Hawkins.
John O’Creagh is cute as Polly’s daddy, and Gordon Baird and Tory Ross have a ball as Eugene and Patricia Fodor of travel guide fame. Amanda Paulson and Kristen Beth Williams are fun follies girls and Maureen Brennan camps it up as Bobby’s acerbic and domineering mom.
If you’re looking for a moving and meaningful plot with universal significance and deeply defined characterizations, this is not the show for you.
If you’re looking for a riotously fun evening with great music and lyrics performed by an exceptional cast of singers and dancers, come on down.