CRAZY FOR YOU (Music by George Gershwin, book by Ken Ludwig)
King Alfred's Academy Theatre, Portway, Wantage, OX12 9BY
25-27 October 2018
Crazy for You is a re-write of a 1930 Gershwin musical called Girl Crazy.
The story starts in New York at Zangler's Follies, a music hall run by Hungarian-born impresario Bela Zangler (Mark Smedley). Bobby Child (Michael Dukes) is the son of a wealthy banking family. Since leaving Harvard, according to his mother (Elizabeth Dobson), he has achieved nothing. But Bobby has dreams of joining Zangler's Follies and becoming a song and dance star. Rejected after auditioning for Bela Zangler, he is sent by his mother to deliver a foreclosure notice on behalf of the family bank to a theatre in the Nevada desert. Once there Bobby falls in love with Polly Baker (Lauren Anderson-Smedley), the feisty tomboy daughter of the theatre's owner Everett (Edmund Bennett). Polly rejects Bobby's romantic overtures when she realises why he has come to Deadrock, Nevada. Hoping to win Polly's heart, Bobby tries to save the theatre from closure by putting on a show to pay off the mortgage. He summons the chorus girls from Zangler's Follies and turns up disguised as Bela Zangler. Hilarity ensues as he recruits the local cow-hands into joining the chorus. All is going like a dream, but then disaster strikes: Polly falls in love, not with Bobby, but with Bobby disguised as Bela. What to do? The plot twists and turns with Bobby's fiancee Irene (Helen Harrison) arriving from New York, and the real Bela Zangler turning up in Deadrock to sow confusion all round. All ends well, of course, with the lovestruck couple reconciled.
True enough, it's a plot of stuff and nonsense, but an excellent excuse for some famous Gershwin standards (I Got Rhythm, Someone to Watch Over Me, Embraceable You, Nice Work If You Can Get It) and high-energy dance routines. Lauren Anderson-Smedley proved herself a right old clever-clogs by taking the female lead and choreographing the whole show as well. She served us up with a series of imaginative, funny, high-octane ensemble pieces that had the last-night audience cheering and whooping. Musical director Chris Fletcher-Campbell led the boys and girls of the orchestra with punchy, brassy renditions of those Gershwin tunes, with more than a whiff of a Weimar Berlin cabaret band added for good measure. Given the characters and plot set-up, the comedy was not meant to be subtle, but director Lesley Phillips' experienced hand ensured that the comic punches were delivered smack on the nose. Lesley Phillips' and Rob Thorpe's minimalist set design made good use of the wide studio space of the King Alfred's Academy Theatre and its long gallery above the stage.
This was a production that offered some terrific song and dance set-pieces, interlaced with a comedy romance. What's not to like? AmEgos Theatre have gathered together a company of talented and committed amateur performers who presented an evening of semi-professional standard theatre to the good people of Wantage. Crazy for You just about sums it up!
About the Author
Mike Lord has been involved with amateur theatre for over twenty years, mainly as an actor but also, more recently, as a director.
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