BWW Reviews: Candlelight Outdoes Itself with Embraceable CRAZY FOR YOU
Tony winning Crazy For You is like a great big tonic to make us feel better and to lift our spirits.The inimitable Gershwin musical score, the corny jokes, thin plot, loony mix-ups... and true 'dreamy' romance all add up to an evening of sheer bliss. Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre's current production of the Tony winning Best Musical is without question one of their very best and worth the ride to Claremont through the end of April.
Bobby Child (Chris Duir), despite the fact that his doting mom (Jenny Moon Shaw) runs a bank and he can have any job he wants, has 'the calling' to be a dancer, to star in Bela Zangler's (Bryan Overmyer) New York theatre - akin to Flo Ziegfeld - and so he struggles and auditions for Zangler but clumsily steps on his foot while tapping and Zangler throws him out, calling him "a moron". Bobby's mom sends him to dreary Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on a theatre, where he meets the love of his life Polly Baker (Susanna Vaughan). But there are complications. As luck would have it, Polly's engaged to nitwit yet forceful Lank Hawkins (Edward Chamberlain) who considers buying Polly's dad's theatre and turning it into a casino. "Who would come to a casino in the middle of a desert?" is but one of a zillion silly one-liners in this madcap romp whose romantic infatuations include Tess (Dannielle Green), who manages the chorus line for Bela and remains the apple of his eye, and Irene Roth (Angela Calderon), Bobby's wealthy fiance, who refuses to take no for an answer, following him to Deadrock and creating yet another triangle. The first triangle, Polly.Bela.Bobby has to be seen to be completely understood. There's the happiest of endings, of course, for all of these folks, as they sing, tap and dance to some of George and Ira Gershwin's most beautiful hit tunes: "Embraceable You", "Bidin' My Time", "Someone to Watch Over Me", "I Got Rhythm", "They Can't Take That Away from Me", "But Not for Me" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It", among others. Neil Dale and choreographer Dustin Ceithamer have outdone themselves with spectacular staging for this show. There's never a dull moment, nary a missed beat. This is Candlelight's best choreography, at least since I've been attending (spring, 2013)
The cast is deliciously over-the-moon. Duir's Bobby brings together the best elements of boyishness and manliness. He's mischievous and clumsy, yet, as actor, totally in control and confident as he acts, sings and dances in true triple threat fashion. Vaughan as Polly wins her audience's hearts with a balanced mix of grounded sensibility, feistiness and precious vulnerability. Chamberlain adds some sturdiness to his country bumpkin Lank. Bryan Overmyer is fantastic as Bela Zangler. His duet with Duir "What Causes That?" is brilliantly staged/choreographed by Ceithamer. Every move is perfectly timed. Green is bright and pleasingly manipulative as Tess; Shaw makes an appropriately obsessive mother and has even more fun playing a second role, tourist Patricia Fodor, the out of place foreigner with the utterly contagious laugh. Calderon is terrifically sexy as Irene, having a field day with "Naughty Baby". A standout from the townsfolk ensemble is David M. Laffey as Moose, who adds moments of silly fun and taps his behind off. The 20 member ensemble, including townsfolk and Zangler beauties are all to be commended royally one and all for providing a great evening of merriment, singing and dancing. And bravo once again to Dale and Ceithamer for putting them so expertly and delightfully through their paces. "Slap That Bass" is a perfect example of audacious imagination with props, which Ceithamer duplicates dutifully from Susan Stroman's original choreography.
The more I see Crazy For You, I realize it is perhaps one of our finest musicals. It has it all: great Gerhswin tunes, superb dancing, and a whole lot of zany fun that keeps coming and coming. It is not an easy show to pull off, but Candlelight does it with glorious style!
As always Act I of Candlelight - the dinner - is delectable. As general manager/vice president Michael Bollinger boasts, "Nothing comes out of a can in our kitchen!" Specialty drinks for every performance, scrumptious appetizers, at least four selections of entrees ranging from slow-roasted tri-tip to pasta, fish or chicken ...and the most divine award-winning desserts anywhere, all at very reasonable prices! And the service is consistently friendly and expeditious.