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Review: Hilliard Arts Council is K-ra-zy for CRAZY FOR YOU

Review: Hilliard Arts Council is K-ra-zy for CRAZY FOR YOU

A celebration of arts and community for the Hilliard community; who could ask for anything more?

An east coast, New York banking elite, who thrives off the family riches of Wall Street, and a western theater owner's daughter, who doubles as the ghost town's postmaster. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

For Bobby Child (Sam Thorpe) and Polly Baker (Mackenzie Lelend), an unlikely circumstance brings the two of them together in the Gershwin-inspired musical comedy Crazy For You.

Bobby is not the typical stuffed shirt, New York businessman, though. He is a man of art and wonder, who dreams of dancing on the stage. His snarky mother Lottie Child (Tobi Gerber) gives him his stage: a trip to Deadrock, Nevada, where he is to finalize a foreclosure deal with the town theater. That probably wasn't the path to the stage he imagined, but that's showbiz, kid.

When Bobby reaches Deadrock, he is immediately smitten by Polly, the only dame in town. Polly has erected walls of confidence and resolve around her that are too tall for any townsperson to climb, but are an easy feat for the googly-eyed Bobby to scale. It's not until Polly realizes that the bank sent Bobby to take her family's theater that she constructs an even higher wall for him to mount.

Enter Bela Zangler, the producer and benefactor of the successful Zangler Follies in New York City. Realizing the wealth and stability that Zangler could bring to her and her family, Polly goes for Zangler; only, she is unable to recognize that it's actually just Bobby impersonating Zangler behind a cheap goatee and wig.

Still, when the Gershwin brothers wrote Girl Crazy, the 1930 pre-cursor to Ken Ludwig's Crazy For You, they knew that without punchy zingers and fortuitous turns of fate, no romantic Hallmark comedy musical would be complete. The double entendres, turns of phrase, and subtle deceptions are timeless and will no doubt continue to delight audiences for generations to come.

For this production, over 100 community members assembled to surmount the show. That alone is a testament to the art and culture of the Hilliard community and Arts Council.

In many ways, the production had high points that had audiences tapping along to familiar tunes like "I Got Rhthym." Still, there were areas where more rehearsal would have been beneficial; the orchestra similarly mirrored the dance chorus, in that it was clear which numbers received more attention in rehearsals both on stage and at home.

At times shouted counts from the orchestra could be heard over the music, like in Ms. Leland's number "Someone to Watch Over Me." Regardless, Ms. Leland steals the show with a pleasant voice and vibrato that befits her complex character, both confident yet torn by the promises of a love that could be.

Although neither she nor Mr. Thorpe are dancers by nature, their chemistry builds and evolves over th course of the two and a half hour show. Ms. Leland's character progression and build up of love and other emotins makes the tale all too believable.

Another character of note is Lank Hawkins (David Boley), the saloon owner and helplessly romantic suitor of Polly. His western twang transports audiences hundreds of miles away to the western mining town. Mr. Hawkins' steadfast performance makes his comic character have depth and illumination.

The last part of the production that needs laudation is the costume design, created by Cynthia Jacober with Candis Witt. To dress a cast of nearly 60 is no easy feat, but when black tie meets showgirl meets cowboy, it is a Herculean feat to design and successfully execute hundreds of homogenous costumes.

In many cases, like the Follies Girls, costumes were of the same design but varied in color and accent. The overall design elevated the production and made the audience feel less and less like they were in a community in central Ohio.

But from the pre-show talk, director Robin Brenneman made the production's intent clear: to entertain the community and provide a place of refuge and love when the world is as tumultuous and turbulent as the one we live in.

As Ms. Brenneman said, her hope is that audiences leave singing a different tune than when they walked in - a Gershwin one, hopefully!

As a celebration of arts and community for Hilliard, who could ask for anything more?

Photo by: Jerri Shafer

From This Author - Dylan Shaffer

Dylan is an avid theatergoer in the Pittsburgh region. In the theatrical realm, he has worked in production, marketing, box office and front of house, in addition to acting, directing and stage-managing.... (read more about this author)

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