Saturday August 19th 2017

“Crazy For You”

crazy_4_you_mobile_newHighly Recommended *****  When someone hears the name George Gershwin, they think Big Musical. When someone thinks about some of the greatest music in “The Great American Songbook”, they think George Gershwin. It is also easy to add Ira Gershwin (his brother) to the mix, as they were amazing talents with great musical abilities. A fun-filled musical, now on the Drury Lane Oakbrook stage, “Crazy For You” allows the audience to hear some of the very best of their work and under the direction and choreography of Matt Crowe watch some of the most fabulous dancing one can imagine. While the show “Crazy For You” opened on Broadway in 1992, there was a previous rendition, “Girl Crazy” that goes back to the 1930’s (so one can see the history).

On several occasions, “Girl Crazy” was adapted for the silver screen and in 1943, MGM did their version starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. In 1965, it was attempted on film starring Connie Francis, Louis Armstrong, Liberace and a group called Herman’s Hermits under the title “When The Boys Meet The Girls”. While they were all cutesy, it was the latest rendition with a new book written by  Ken Ludwig (conceived along with Mike Ockrent), the “master” of crazy situations, changing some of the basic story and the lyrics of some of the major numbers. This is indeed a “hokey” story. It deals with a wealthy young man, Bobby Child (Clyde Alves is an amazing dancer with style grace and agility that will have your eyes wide and your mouth agape), who only wants to be a Broadway “hooker”. His mother, Lottie (brought to life by the very talented, Chicago favorite, Janet Ulrich Brooks) has other plans for him and his future. It seems the family owns a property  out west that they need to foreclose on. Bobby is sent to get the job done!

The property is in a town that has lost its glitter and is slowly fading. Part of the property is a Hotel, restaurant owned by Lank Hawkins (Rod Thomas showing his comic ability has gotten better with age). Adjacent to the hotel, an old theater (now used as a post office for the community). The theater is kind of operated by Polly Baker (a glorious performance by  Robyn Hurder, who offstage is married to her co-star, Alves and we can see the chemistry on the stage). Her late mother was a performer and her father ,Everett (deftly handled by another Chicago favorite, Roger Mueller) who truly wants the theater open in order to keep his late wife’s memories alive. What happens when Bobby comes to town is a love/hate relationship with mixed feelings and some identity situations. Broadway producer Bela Zangler ( Larry Adams can handle character roles to the NTH degree. Bobby pretends to be Zangler in order to get Polly to go along with the show and this is where the fun begins.crazy3

By the way, Bobby has a “girlfriend”, who he does not want to be with, Irene (charmingly played by Erica Stephan), who follows him from New York and finds herself staying on and getting involved. As I said earlier, this is a “hokey” show, but the great dancing and music overcomes any “hokiness” allowing us to laugh, tap our toes and walk out of the theater in very high spirits. Opening night was just two days after the 2016 presidential election, and while many people were discussing their inner feelings before the curtain, during intermission and certainly after the show it was “all smiles” and happiness in Oakbrook and I suspect all the way home. I am still tapping my toes as I write this review!

crazy4Let’s talk about the music; “Biding My Time”, “Someone To Watch Over Me”, “Naughty Baby”, “Stiff Upper Lip”, “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, “But Not For Me”, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, “Embraceable You” and a first act dance number to “I Got Rhythm” that is worth the price of the ticket on its own. Even with some of it cut down, this tap dance routine number is as energetic and exciting as a tap number can be- I loved it! The entire audience loved it! and I am pretty sure that every actor/dance in this company loved it!

The Drury Lane Orchestra, under the direction of Shawn Stengel (with music direction by Roberta Duchak) is absolutely the best and the ensemble proves what I always say, a musical show is only as good as the pieces that fit the puzzle. This puzzle has every part in the perfect place and each character (some of the ensemble members play several) make it work! Mark David Kaplan, Holly Stauder, Erica Evans, Laura Savage, Alexander Aguilar, William Carlos Angulo, Julie Baird, Justin Brill, Joe Capstick, Courtney Cerny, Harter Clinman (who has become a solid character actor over the least few years), Rachel Hafell, Ashley Lanyon, Kristina Larson, Ryan Naimy, Hanah Rose Nardone, Anthony Norman, Doug Pawlik, Aaron Umsted and Lucy Zakaitis- GREAT work!

The tech aspects of every show at this theater are as solid as one can anticipate. Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s set is cleverly done with buildings sliding in and out, giving us the Broadway feeling. Caitlin McLeod’s costumes are divine and of course crazy9under the direction of Ray Nardelli, the sound is perfect as are the lights by Heather Gilbert. Cassy Schillo handles the props and the wigs and make-up are done to perfection by Claire Moores. Hats off to Adrian Aguilar for his assistance in the direction along with the fight choreography. This is a well-tuned, two-hour-thirty-minute production (with one 15 minute intermission) that you should mak every effort to bear witness to. If you have seen previous renditions, forget them- see this and make new memories for yourself and loved ones! If you have not seen it- DO SO! Now! Before you miss what might be one of the top musicals of the season.

“Crazy For You” will continue at Drury Lane Oakbrook thru January 8th (so this could be a Holiday gift for your loved ones) with performances as follows:

crazy6Wednesdays  1:30 p.m.

Thursdays  1″30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets range from $45- $60 and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 630-530-0111 or Ticketmatser at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.DruryLaneTheatre.com

The theater is located at 100 Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace just North of the Oakbrook Shopping Center.

There are discounts for seniors and students as well as some dinner/lunch packages available.

Plenty of FREE parking as well as valet parking.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Crazy For You”crazy5

 

 

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