Photo Flash: Opening Night Reception For CRAZY FOR YOU
Their music became the soundtrack for the Twentieth Century and saw America through some of her darkest days of the Great Depression and the tumultuous years of World War II. George and Ira Gershwin, the song-writing brothers penned such standards as "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "Embraceable You," and "I Got Rhythm." Unfortunately, the books behind the musicals for which they were writing could not hold a candle to the music. That is, until Ken Ludwig stepped in more than 50 years after George Gershwin died to rework the story behind the Gershwin's Girl Crazy (1930). The result was the 1992 Tony Award winning-including Best Musical-Broadway smash hit musical Crazy for You, which will be on the Theatre at the Center stage, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana, May 7 through June 14. Press opening will be May 14 at 8 p.m.
Crazy for You ran four years on Broadway, three in London, and has become a fixture in the world of musical comedy since its debut. Set in the 1930s, it is the story of Bobby Child (Richard Strimer), the sweet son of a wealthy New York banking family, whose dream in life is to dance on Broadway. Despite protests from his battle-axe of a mother (Mary Redmon) and wealthy soon-to-be-ex-fiancé (Lauren Creel), Bobby flees to Deadrock, Nevada where he falls in love with Polly Baker (Amy Brophy) the only girl within 50 miles and achieves his dream. Memorable Gershwin tunes include "I Can't Be Bothered Now," "Shall We Dance," "Bidin' My Time," "Naughty Baby," "But Not for Me," "Nice Work if You Can Get It," and "Someone to Watch Over Me." Crazy for You is a high energy, screw-ball comedy complete with mistaken identity, plot twists, fabulous dance numbers and classic Gershwin music.
The two Gershwin brothers are a study in opposites. Ira, two years older than George, was given a piano by his parents which he refused to play, instead preferring the allurements of sandlot baseball and cartooning. instead. In 1907, George, at age 9, sat down at his brother's neglected piano and began to play. By age 15, George was playing piano at a Catskill Mountain resort for five dollars a week. It was there that he wrote his first song, the never-published "Since I Found You." Five years later, he was penning tunes for Broadway revues, and soon thereafter wrote his first certified hits, Swanee" for Al Jolson, and "Somebody Loves Me."
Ira tried to escape his fate. He enrolled in New York's City College and tried his hand as an illustrator and cartoonist. But brother George's early successes as a composer of popular tunes eventually dragged him back to the piano but not to play. His role was to contribute lyrics. At first, not wanting to ride his younger brother's coattails, he wrote lyrics under an assumed name, Arthur Francis (the first names of his other brother and sister). With that alias, Ira wrote lyrics to some of George's songs and also to the music of other musical comedy composers. But in 1921, he came out of the musical closet, using his own name as lyricist for a song written by his brother and himself, with the title of-what else?-"Be Yourself."
George Gershwin died on July 12, 1937, at the age of thirty-eight, while he was working on the film score for The Goldwyn Follies in Hollywood. An inconsolable Ira managed to complete the lyrics for the film, but then stopped writing altogether for four years. In the 1940s and 1950s he once more took up his pen, collaborating on projects with Jerome Kern, Arthur Schwartz, and Harold Arlen, as well as Kurt Weill. Ira died in 1983 at the age of eighty-six. The year before his death, he worked on the hit musical, My One and Only, the score of which was entirely created from songs written for other musicals by himself and the little brother who had first played the piano meant for him.
The cast of Crazy for You also features Larry Adams as "Bela Zangler", Matthew Amador as "Lank Hawkins", Jim Sherman as "Everett Baker", Kelli Morgan as "Patricia Fodor", David Dennison as "Eugene Fodor", Cara Salerno as "Tess", Amber Mak as "Patsy", Ben Kirberger as "Moose", Scott Stratton as "Sam", Jackson Evans as "Mingo", Zach Zube as "Junior", as well as chorus members Nicole Miller, Dan Collins, Carrie Stedman, Alex McCrary and Megan Simmons.
William Pullinsi will direct. Choreographer is Linda Fortunato. Music Director is Bill Underwood. The design team for Crazy for You is Scenic Designer Bill Bartelt, Costume Designer Brenda Winstead, Lighting Designer Denise Karczewski, Wig and Makeup Designer Kevin Barthel, Props Designer Libby Fandrei and Sound Designer Barry G. Funderburg. The Stage Manager is Jason Wroblewski, with ASM Robert Hildreth. Production Manager is Chuck Gessert and Technical Director is Ann Davis.
Founded in 1991, Theatre at the Center is a year-round professional, equity theater at its home, The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, Indiana. Theatre at the Center is conveniently located off I-80/94, just 35 minutes from downtown Chicago.
Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. ($36.00); Fridays at 8:00 p.m. ($40.00); Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. ($40.00); Sundays at 2:30 p.m. ($40.00) and select Thursdays at 7:30, and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. 4- Show Season subscriptions to our remaining hit comedies and timeless classics are available for only $120. To purchase season tickets or individual tickets call the Box Office at 219.836.3255 or Tickets.com at 800.511.1552. Group discounts, available for groups of 20 or more; and gift certificates, perfect for all special occasions are also available by calling the Box Office at 219.836.3255. For more information on Theatre at the Center, visit www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com.
Richard Strimer and Linda Fortunato
Benjamin Kirberger, Bill Pullinsi and Zach Zube
Patty Spillers and Charles Cessert
Larry Adams and Amy Brophy