Originally written in 1930 by George and Ira Gershwin titled “Girl Crazy”, this light-hearted piece of musical theatre was revamped and renamed by Ken Ludwig in 1992 and went on to win the Tony Award for best musical the same year.
The story tells of Bobby Childs a banker who dreams of performing on stage. When he is sent by the bank to Deadwood, Nevada, to close an unprofitable old theatre, he falls in love with Polly Baker the daughter of the theatre’s owner. When Polly discovers what Bobby is in Deadwood to do, she wants nothing else to do with him.
What follows is a zany plot, involving disguises and the traditional theme which is featured in so many productions of the 1930s and 1940s. The classic theme of “putting on a show,” as Bobby tries to win Polly back.
Director Paul Hart keeps the old school Broadway feel of this production; however, he has added a modern twist as there is no standard orchestra. Members of the cast play a variety of musical instruments and remain on stage throughout.
Choreography by Nathan M. Wright reflects the era perfectly, with neat formation of dancers filling the stage. I particularly enjoyed how the dancers “tapped” on packing crates during the number I’ve got Rhythm.
Diego Pitarch’s bright, vibrant costume design, together with a very detailed set that turned from a New York backdrop into a dusty old theatre with many different levels, transported the viewer into the 1930s.
Strictly Come Dancing champion and West End star Tom Chambers, plays the role of Bobby Childs with a likeable charm. He has natural charisma on stage and a comedic style that suited the character. All of which was much appreciated by the Wolverhampton audience. For me, he was at his best when performing the dance routines, which he did with easy grace, energy and style.
TV and stage star Claire Sweeney gives a strong performance as Bobby Child’s domineering fiancée Irene, particularly in the number Naughty baby.
The stand out performance for me was Charlotte Wakefield as the strong, warm, no nonsense Polly Baker. As well as being a terrific dancer she also has a wonderful voice. Her rendition of Someone to watch over me and But not for me were just delightful, and my favourite numbers of the night.
The plot of this story might be thin, and the characters may lack depth, but the humour, terrific dance routines, strong performances by a very talented cast and wonderful iconic and classic songs by Gershwin more than make up for this.
I left my seat convinced that I had rhythm as I tapped (as discreetly as possible) out of the theatre, and into the streets of Wolverhampton.
Crazy for You runs at the Grand Theatre Wolverhampton from the 8th – 12th May before continuing its national UK tour.
Theatretastic rating 4/5:
We say: “Crazy for you magically recreates the golden era of musical theatre in this toe-tapping dazzling production!”