CRAZY FOR YOU - 2ND OPINION/CRITIQUE
Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Book by Ken Ludwig
Co-Conception by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent
Inspired by Material by Guy Bolton and John McGowan
Garland Summer Musicals
EDITOR’S NOTE: In a strange twist, we had some confusion on who was originally assigned to review this production. THE COLUMN had a critic review it on Saturday night (Juliana Adame) and a second COLUMN critic review the show at its Sunday matinee (Genevieve Croft). So consider this like a “2nd Opinion/critique” of this musical.
Director –Buff Shurr
Music Director/Conductor—Larry B. Miller
Choreography – Joseph Jones, Julie Russell Stanley
Set Designer – Donna Marquet
Lighting Designer – Susan A. White
Sound Designer – Tyler Payne
Costume Designer – Michael A. Robinson, Suzi Cranford, Dallas Costume Shoppe
Tess – Caren Sharpe-Herbst
Patsy– Lori Jones
Bobby Child—Joseph Jones
Bela Zangler– Stan Graner
Sheila– Briana Abbott
Susie– Alex Altshuler
Louise– Caitlin Jones
Betsy– Helena Lynch
Elaine– Katie Nicholas
Margie – Brittany Stahl
Ada– McKenna Woodlan
Irene Roth—Christine Phelan
Mother – Rose-Mary Rumbley
Banker/Henry the Bartender– Steven E. Beene
Moose– Mark Quach
Sam– Joshua Smith
Ricky– David Helms
Oscar– Sammy Swim
Custus– Nicholas Winterrowd
Pete– Nick Chabot
Jimmy– Isaiah C.L. Harris
Wyatt– Brad Weatherford
Junior– Adam Henley
Polly Baker– Stephanie Riggs
Everett Baker– Phil Alford
Lank Hawkins– Steven J. Golin
Eugenia Fodor– Delynda Johnson Moravec
Patricia Fodor– Jill Lightfoot
Banker/Various Roles–Linda Frank
Props/Various Roles—Elizabeth Myers
Reviewed Performance: 7/19/2015
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
George and Ira Gershwin are by far, one of the greatest songwriting teams of the modern era. Anytime someone uses one of their standards for a television commercial, or fans attend a high school or college football halftime show, you can bet a version of “Rhapsody in Blue” has been pulled out of the music library, and is resurrected once again for modern audiences-making the brothers Gershwin truly timeless, as their music continues to stay consistent in popular culture. Crazy For You is no different. Playwright Ken Ludwig’s 1992 adaptation of the 1930 musical, Girl Crazy (along with other Gershwin musical productions) pays homage to the to the great musicals of the 1930’s. This tongue in cheek musical is chock full of puns, catchy songs and is a parody of the Ziegfeld Follies with similar names and characters. Immediately, I was enthralled. As a musical theatre aficionado, it was a pleasure to see a musical production in the style that started it all.
Crazy for You is set in New York City and the fictional Deadrock, Nevada in the 1930’s. The large ensemble cast includes a wealth of talent of all ages. The musical is a lengthy two and a half hours, however, the high energy and recognizable songs allow the audience to pay no attention to the time, and to quickly get drawn into the story, set against a backdrop of very familiar George and Ira Gershwin songs. It was the quickest two and a half hours spent in a musical theatre production. Audiences are quickly swept into this romantic tale, complete with zany comedy, mistaken identity, gun fights, and full scale impressive tap numbers- all the perfect equation for any true Broadway musical from the 1930’s. There is everything you would expect from 1930’s musical production…boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl, and boy and girl get together again. It was a true theatrical experience. I felt like I had been transported to a Broadway audience in 1930, and I was watching the premiere of a new Gershwin musical.
Director Buff Shurr brought together an ensemble cast which worked well together, and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously and knit together scenery, lighting and sound that enhanced the story being told by this eclectic ensemble of characters. Each actor in the ensemble added an honest touch of authenticity to their role, and worked well together. Whether they were playing a lead, or an important member of the chorus ensemble, each actor brought something special to the stage, and to the overall audience experience of the production.
Set Designer Donna Marquet successfully transformed the proscenium stage into multiple locations. In a story with so many locations, each one was designed and conveyed with precision for detail. I was impressed with Marquet’s attention to detail in each location and especially the usage of the simple details resulting in humorous audience reactions. It was everything that I would expect in a musical production with multiple locations-a large rotating set which provided quick and seamless transitions from scene to scene, and in several locations a multi-leveled set which allowed the actors to impress the audience with complex dance routines high in the air, also adding to the grandiose spectacle expected from a 1930’s musical production. In addition, the painted backdrops of the New York skyline, and the Deadrock Theatre were exquisitely designed and painted. It was a nice effect to see these locations conveyed with such simplicity, yet also great care and detail. This attention to detail was one of those things that would not have been missed had it not been there but added an element of authenticity and legitimacy to the set.
Susan A. White designed lighting. White did a fantastic job plotting lighting that was appropriate and never cast distracting shadows. Through the performance, her cuing to enhance each scene was spot on. I especially enjoyed how the lighting complimented the scenic design, giving the impression of different times and locations. It was a fantastic effect, and really brought the lighting and the scenic designs together. Michael A. Robinson, Suzi Cranford and the Dallas Costume Shoppe designed costumes that were not only period appropriate but also had a fine attention to detail. The follies girls each had a unique, beautiful costume, with dazzling feather headdresses. I enjoyed seeing the women of the cast in extraordinary 1930’s hats- a fashion trend that I wish would make a recurrence today. Everyone in the ensemble had extremely different costumes, and there was never a point in this production when I felt that costumes were similar to one another. Each ensemble player wore a unique costume (for each role) adding to their importance to the story. All this added authenticity to their roles. Costumes were visually appealing, while also giving an accurate depiction of their character’s personality, and life in 1930’s. As I have come to expect, anytime Michael Robinson, Suzi Cranford, or the Dallas Costume Shoppe is artistically responsible for the costume designs, and executions, audiences ARE guaranteed visually appealing, stunning, and period appropriate garb that adds to and enhances the allusion of the production.
Joseph Jones was incredibly believable in the dual roles of Bobby Childs and the “fictional” Bela Zangler. Through facial expression, and body language, Jones convincingly portrayed the aspiring dancer seeking to join the Zangler Follies, while also wishing to please his domineering Mother (played impressively by local celebrity and author Rose-Mary Rumbley). His role was enthusiastic, and his honesty on stage was nearly constant, having appropriate interactions with everyone in the ensemble. Jones never faltered in his delivery. He displayed great talent in his singing and dancing abilities, also. He embodies the term “triple threat.” I have great admiration for his talents- I was especially impressed with his renditions of “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”-two personal Gershwin favorites of mine.
Polly Baker was played by Stephanie Riggs. Riggs was very convincing through facial expressions, body language, and line delivery. Ms. Riggs was very skillful in playing the Gershwin ingénue. Riggs provided humor and honesty to her musical numbers (“I Got Rhythm” and “Things Are Looking Up” ), and displayed nice chemistry with Jones, and with her father, Everett Baker (played wonderfully by Phil Alford). In one specific scene, Riggs and Jones were engaged in a very tender moment, while dancing together in “Shall We Dance” demonstrating their affection for each other. I felt very engaged in their genuine chemistry for each other.
Another standout was Mark Quach in the role of town idiot, yet good-natured character aptly named Moose. With his delivery and facial expression, Quach was convincingly humorous and provided an appropriate touch of slapstick comedy in the midst of a generally witty comedy. Audiences are guaranteed to laugh when Moose is in the scene!
This production of Crazy For You is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for a satisfying experience. From the moment the overture begins, and the recognizable songs are previewed, you will be enthralled. Whether you are the young, or the young-at-heart, Crazy For You will be an energetic, and old-fashioned theatrical spectacle- a good time is guaranteed for all ages! Hurry, you have a short time to see Crazy For You at The Garland Summer Musicals. You’d be “crazy” to miss out!
CRAZY FOR YOU
The Garland Summer Musicals
Granville Arts Center
300 N. 5th Street
Garland, TX 75040
Plays through July 26.
Friday, July 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, July 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm
Ticket prices are as follows:
$30.00 for Adults
$26.00 for Seniors
$24.00 for Student/Youth
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.garlandboxoffice.com , call the box office at 972-205-2790.