Theater Review: CRAZY FOR YOU (San Diego Musical Theatre in San Diego)

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by Milo Shapiro on February 16, 2019

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


In 1930, a musical called Girl Crazy, with a score by George and Ira Gershwin, opened on Broadway to moderate success, running 272 performances. The rarely-revived show didn’t have the chops to endure the decades, but the music from it certainly did. Girl Crazy gave us memorable tunes, like “Bidin’ My Time,” “But Not For Me,” “Could You Use Me?” and the biggest hit of all, the oft-covered “Embraceable You.”

In 1992, these four and other classic Gershwin songs — such as “Nice Work If You Can Get It” from the movie A Damsel in Distress and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” from the film Shall We Dance — were revitalized into a new musical. With an entirely original plot, Ken Ludwig’s book gave Crazy for You a classic 30s/40s musical feel in a never-before-seen production.

Lottie (Katie Gucik), a wealthy banking woman, wants her aptly-named son Bobby Child (Jeffrey Scott Parsons) to get serious about life and follow in her footsteps. Likewise, Bobby’s girlfriend  Irene (Kelly Derouin) wants him to settle down. Bobby, however, is enamored by the bright lights of stage stardom. He yearns to be a song-and-dance star, despite failing to earn the respect of Vaudeville-style producer Bela Zangler (David McBean).

Bobby caves to Lottie’s demand that he board a train to tiny, remote Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a building there for her. Upon arriving, he discovers not only that the building in question is a beautiful, long-closed theater but that it has been inherited by tough-but-beautiful Polly (Tayler Mettra), who cannot bear to see her mother’s theater destroyed. In classic early-century musical style, Bobby falls in love with her within about three minutes. Of course, she wants nothing to do with the banker who would take her theater from her. The result? Shockingly, the need for Bobby to create a musical with the local ne’er-do-wells to save the theater, leading to much singing and dancing for our entertainment. Yes, silly and obvious almost every step of the way, but done so lovingly, cleverly, and joyfully that you’re happy to be along for the ride.

Go in knowing that Crazy for You has a plot pretty much as an excuse to bring you these songs and, perhaps more so, for the excellently carried out choreography of Jill Gorrie — if not quite creating the complex routines one might find on Broadway. Enjoy the comedic timing throughout, particularly in one Harpo Marx-like encounter between Billy and Bela. The dance moves are tight and — especially with So You Think You Can Dance hoofer Matthew Ryan — outright impressive.

Under Kristen Chandler’s direction, SDMT’s players feel strongly connected; they are enjoying themselves up there and that energy carries over to us. The performers are giving us a show of joy. With sparkling performances — in particular, Parsons, Mettra, Derouin, and McBean — Janet Pitcher and Peter Herman’s flamboyant costumes and hair design, and Dwight Richard Odle and Mathys Herbert’s excellent set-design, it would be hard to walk out of SDMT’s production without a big smile on your face.

photos by Ken Jacques Photography

Crazy for You
San Diego Musical Theatre
Horton Grand Theatre, 444 Fourth Ave
Wed & Thurs at 7:30; Fri & Sat at 8; Sun at 2
ends on March 3, 2019
for tickets, call 858.560.5740 or visit SDMT

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