BWW Reviews: Dutch Apple's CRAZY FOR YOU is Crazy With Fun
As any diehard show tune lover knows, the oldies are often the best, and the best of those tend to be by Porter and by the Gershwins. Just as FORTY-SECOND STREET collected a wonderful collection of older tunes in a more recent musical, CRAZY FOR YOU collects some of the best Gershwin in a more recent musical that's as fluffy and silly as the early musical revues for which brothers George and Ira wrote songs, with a book by Ken Ludwig that's not quite his usual farce but it's pretty darn close to it.
At Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, directed by Dean Sobon and choreographed by Samantha Hewes, it's every bit as funny as it should be, and if you're willing to suspend your disbelief for the ride to Deadrock, Nevada, you're in for some serious entertainment with the cast of Zanger's Follies.
Bobby Child (a talented Jake Delaney) is a failure at love and at banking; his overbearing fiancée, Irene (Millicent Hunnicutt) and his overbearing mother (Sherry Konjura), who runs the bank, loathe each other, and quite possibly Bobby too. And Bobby has one dream only - to be a tap dancing star! He keeps auditioning unsuccessfully with Bela Zangler (Craig Smith, who's delightful in a role completely unlike his Bud Frump in Dutch Apple's excellent HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS), the irascible revue producer, and hanging out with the Zangler Girls. All of the girls love him, though, and they'd be willing to do him a favor if he needed it, which - it's a comedy after all - he will.
Sent by his mother to foreclose on a building in Deadrock, Bobby discovers that it's a theatre. Can it be saved if he can put on a show there? But the beautiful but abrasive Polly Baker (Emily Grace Tucker), postal clerk and building owner, doesn't trust him when she realizes he could take the building. Enter a troupe of Zangler Girls to put on a show, and Bela Zangler himself - Bobby in disguise. What if nobody comes to their show, and what if the real Bela Zangler arrives just when Polly's fallen for Bobby's Zangler impersonation.
It's one of those romps that doesn't involve wondering if everything will work out; the only question is how it will work out. Prepare for the show to turn into long moments of pure vaudeville schtick that can go a bit over the top (and just may make the show drag if you know all of the chestnuts Ludwig wrote in): "I didn't come here to be insulted." "Oh, where do you usually go?" This writer found herself, the first time she saw this show, reciting every punch line to herself; it's no different in this production. But that's Ludwig, not Gershwin or the performers. The Gershwin music and lyrics are timeless, and the cast is fine. Just lean back and moan at the so-old-they've-got-whiskers routines.
Delaney and Smith are both gifted at physical comedy, which is vital in the slapstick moments in the show, and Sobon has the timing down for them.
Highlights are certainly the ensemble in "I Got Rhythm," which closes the first act outstandingly in this production, and "What Causes That?" with Bobby, Bela, and ensemble, which is both a musical and physical comedy lark. Also look out for "Naughty Baby" with Irene and Lank (Galloway Stevens), which is both the only truly risqué moment in the show, and a truly risqué moment. Hunnicut, as Irene, is wonderful here. Emily Grace Tucker's dancing is also a joy to watch.
If your tastes run to over-the-top comedy, if the Keystone Kops or Steve Carrell are favorites of yours, if you're a Mel Brooks fan, CRAZY FOR YOU is your show. It's not sedate. It's not proper. It's every bit as twisted as Ludwig's LEND ME A TENOR, if less tense because you know exactly what will happen when the twists arise; remember, it's a reincarnation of sorts of 1920's musical comedies, where everyone lived happily ever after, no matter what it took to get them there. Bobby finds true love, and so does his fiancée, and even the brilliant-but-difficult Bela Zangler lives happily ever after. Reno, Nevada may be America's historic divorce capital, but Deadrock is in a dead heat with Las Vegas for finding happiness. Comedy fans and Gershwin lovers may find it there, too.
CRAZY FOR YOU is at Dutch Apple through November 8. Call 717-898-1900 or visit www.dutchapple.com for tickets and information.