This revival of Ken
Ludwig’s celebration of George and Ira Gershwin’s music takes us on a full-throttle ride through American classics and culture, brightening up the stage
like the 4th of July. Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman,
Made from what the American Dream should be.
Set during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Crazy for You focuses on Bobby Child (Charlie Stemp), a bank clerk with a desire to be a professional dancer, who is sent on business to Deadrock, Nevada.
Whilst there he teams up with Polly Baker (Carly Anderson) in a last-ditch attempt to save the town’s theatre from foreclosure. What follows is a combination of spirited high-jinks, sweeping musical numbers, and dance routines that conjure up memories of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Stroman taps into the slapstick humour of the show, and the cast never miss an opportunity to play out a moment of ridiculousness. Her choreography mimics the songs, letting the music take the lead, showing a rationality and appreciation for the Gershwins’ music. It’s a fantastic display of classical ballroom dancing and intricacy of footwork, especially in the large-scale, tap-dancing numbers.
The creative team reflect the spirit of the Golden Age. Ken Billington’s lighting indicates when moments take place in reality or in Bobby’s imagination. Beowulf Boritt’s scenic design drops starkly contrast the show’s two locations: draping Deadrock in corrugated iron extending to the wings, making it appear brighter than New York.
The supporting cast dance with incredible precision and clarity. Each number is a whirlwind of activity. But where to start describing Stemp’s sheer talent? His footwork is incredibly nimble. At times, he seems to glide across the stage. To call Stemp a modern-day Fred Astaire wouldn’t fully encapsulate his sheer talent for dance. His raw, natural ability shows he is a once-in-a-generation dancer, without need of comparison. And he has an easy chemistry with Polly Anderson's clear-voiced love interest, Polly.
Crazy For You was a phenomenon when it first opened on Broadway in 1992 and it remains one today. It’s the very best of 20th century culture right here in the 21st, made from what the American Dream should be.