by Chris Holland

Crazy for You

The Alhambra

IF corny American musicals are not your thing, this outstanding production of George and Ira Gershwin’s classic Crazy For You should change your view.

A stage-struck banker sent to foreclose on a failing backwoods theatre instead ends up putting on a show and saving it, falling in love along the way. The usual frothy stuff, you may think.

What sets Crazy For You apart is the sublime foot-tapping Gershwin score.

It includes songs that have become standards since they were created in the 1930s, including Someone to watch Over Me; Embraceable You; I Got Rhythm; They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Nice Work If You Can Get It .

This latest reincarnation of Crazy For You by Watermill Theatre provides a showcase for a remarkably talented cast and production team.

Director Paul Hart choreographer Nathan M Wright and musical arranger Catherine Jayes pay true homage to the Gershwins who back in their day created the modern musical.

The version of Crazy For You is a memorable ensemble piece and a truly enjoyable event. The company act, dance, sing and play musical instruments as part of the on stage action rather than perform to a static orchestra.

The pace, energy and level of accomplishment is a joy to behold. I particularly enjoyed seeing and hearing the double bass centre stage in several numbers in the capable hands of Ned Rudkins-Stow .

He was just one of a spirited company who deftly switch instruments and move easily between character acting and playing the sublime jazz inspired score while performing the intricate dance moves.

Tom Chambers heads the cast as Bobby Child dispatched from New York by his money grabbing banker mother to reclaim the run down Gaiety Theatre in Dead Rock, Nevada. He nicely switches between lovestruck Bobby and impressario Zangler whom he imitates to impress his girl.

Mr Chambers is likeable, confidently ranging from soft shoe shuffle and energetic tap numbers to acrobatic show stoppers.

Charlotte Wakefield is a delightful Polly who finally falls for Bobby. Her performance is full of punch. Her singing voice does full justice to both the swing numbers and the quieter love songs.

Claire Sweeney excels as a vigorous Irene Roth and this talented performer grabs hold of the character with both hands. Her raunchy performance of Naughty Baby wearing scarlet against a red-lit set is a real highlight.

There are great cameos too from Neil Ditt as Bela Zangler and Kate Milner-Evans as Lottie Child.

Created during the great economic depression of the 1930s, Crazy For You is an outstanding example of the ‘feel good’ musical . It still succeeds today in these current uncertain times.

Runs until Saturday.