Crazy for You Review

September 29, 2017 by Claire Cosgrove

Crazy for You Review 

Without wishing to sound like a broken record, Crazy for You has always been in my top 10 favourite musicals (yes, I have a list). I saw a West End production of the show back in 1993, with Ruthie Henshall in the lead, and loved every second of it. It was big and glamorous with breath-taking dancers, high-kicking around the stage with giant feathers and glittering costumes. It had all the ingredients of a true Broadway classic.

Now the show has taken to the road for a touring production, after a successful run at the Watermill Theatre. Tom Chambers (Casualty & Strictly Come Dancing fame) leads the cast as Bobby, son of a wealthy New York banking family and frustrated Broadway hoofer. Sent to Deadrock, Nevada to close down a failing theatre, Bobby falls in love with Polly (Olivia Award Nominee, Charlotte Wakefield), the daughter of the proprietor. It’s, of course, a rocky road to love, and Bobby, taking on the guise of a Hungarian impresario, decides to help save the theatre by putting on a show. You think this sounds complicated, there are also a number of sub plots thrown in for good measure, allowing for Caroline Flack to step up as Irene Roth, Bobby’s jilted fiancée and feisty seductress. The sluggish, dusty and rundown town is injected with glamour, glitz and purpose with the help of showgirls and the magic of the stage.

It’s a very busy show. There is a lot of story, a lot of music, a lot of dancing and not a lot of space. As is the fashion now, most of the cast had to sing, dance, act and play an instrument. It made the whole stage appear cluttered and the cast were practically tripping over one another and the numerous instruments and props on the stage. No wonder there was a 25-minute delay due to ‘technical problems’. Probably the sheer weight of getting everything and everyone onto the stage!

Sadly, the big dance routines were honed down to the minimum. When Bobby and Polly were meant to be spinning around the stage with American Smooth panache, they looked cramped and uncomfortable. Any romance hampered by the awkwardly placed ensemble, stood at the side of the stage, instruments at the ready.

Hats off to Tom Chambers, who gave it 100%. To go from dance routine, to solo song, to slapstick routine, all without collapsing, was an achievement in itself. He did look utterly exhausted though and I was slightly put off by the high energy, slapstick routines. Surely Bobby should be the charismatic, handsome stranger who we all fall in love with? The characterisation made him a bit of an unlovable twerp. Charlotte Wakefield ruled the roost when it came to vocals, belting out the classics with clarity. Caroline Flack was an interesting choice for Irene but she just about got away with it…

Of course, the music is the star of the show. You really can’t go wrong with the fabulous score. The Gershwin brothers’ songbook is sensational. I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Embraceable You all feature and it is wonderful.

It’s a great show but, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, the production and the audience did not quite gel last night. Jokes fell flat, someone fell asleep and snored so loudly the entire stalls could hear them and the cast looked a little frazzled. Call me old fashioned but, on this occasion I think they should have left orchestra in the pit, leaving the actors space and energy to dedicate to the story, dance routines and wonderful singing numbers.

OK, so this isn’t a ringing endorsement but it is a great show, nonetheless. On at The Cliff’s until Saturday 30th September. If you love Broadway glamour with some beautiful Gershwin music, it’s definitely worth a trip over.

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