Currently playing at Theatre Three, With music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and choreography by director Michael Serrecchia and Megan Kelly Bates, Crazy For You is a blissy, peppy, exuberant ride into the painless realms of musical comedy. Set in what must be the 1930’s (considering the homage to The Ziegfield Follies) Crazy For You follows Bobby Child to Nevada, where (acting on behalf of his wealthy mother) he must foreclose on a theater. Bobby is a talented singer and hoofer, who is desperately trying to get the attention of Broadway impresario Bela Zangler (read Flo Ziegfield). Upon his arrival in the rough riding, honky-tonkin, town of Deadrock, he falls in love with Polly Baker. Polly’s dad, Everett, owns the imperiled theater, and when she learns the ostensible purpose of Bobby’s arrival, the budding romance is extinguished, post haste. Bobby assumes the identity of Zangler, in a heartfelt attempt to stage a successful show in the near ghost-town, and salvage the theater, as well as Everett’s, and his own dreams.
For one reason and another, Polly finds herself connecting with faux Zangler. The cowboys and other denizens of Deadrock are inspired by the prospect of the new musical, exhilarated by rehearsals and the giddy energy that comes from participating in a lively, funny, sunshiney production. [And you just might, too!] Of course, before everything’s said and done, Zangler comes to town, so does Bobby’s mama, and chipper insanity ensues. Deadrock is such a long trek from any city that might have eager audience members, the show and the theater are in serious jeopardy.
In 1992 Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent released Crazy For You on Broadway, as a “new Gershwin Musical, ” creating a fresh context for the songs of the Gershwin brothers. While watching Crazy For You might wonder if every song choice is exactly a seamless fit, but there’s no denying the warmth, charisma and infectious pizzazz of numbers like, “I’ve got rhythm,” “Someone to watch over me,” and “They can’t take that away from me.” The dance orchestrations are so fizzy and inventive, with lots of western steps and noisy, happy tap and stomp, it’s nearly impossible to resist the frothy optimism, just waiting to wash over you. It’s impressive to note the convergence of sophisticated, uptown pieces with a bucolic milieu more reminiscent of The Rainmaker and Oklahoma. The impressive, buoyant cast is never bashful about hopping up on wash tubs, tables, bars, or each other, whether exchanging gunfire, whooping it up, knocking back a few or smooching.
Sam Beasley (as Bobby Child) and Emily Lockhart (as Polly Baker) are pleasure as the misbegotten lovers, Beasley has that grand glow of confidence and earnest credibility, while Lockhart brandishes a rustic, rambunctious, combustible gumption that will tickle and dazzle you. She’s genuine and accessible, without resorting to caricature. Brian Hathaway brings his wonderful artistry and aplomb to the role of Bela Zangler. Hathaway just seems to have a gift for tapping into your buried joie de vivre, despite whatever gloom you might be wrestling with. He, and the rest of the cast, and Michael Serrecchia, have a gift for sparking some splendid, effusive merriment, on the chilliest of days.
Theatre Three presents Crazy for You, playing November 15th – December 15th, 2012. 2800 Routh Street, Suite 168, Dallas, Texas 75201. 214-971-1300. www.theatre3dallas.com