BWW Review: CRAZY FOR YOU at Candlelight Music Theatre
Aisle Say has great advice for The Gershwin Trust, those descendants of George and Ira who have clipped coupons all their lives by virtue of the brothers' genius and copywrite law. They wrote 17 Broadway shows. Only one, GIRL CRAZY (rewritten and renamed CRAZY FOR YOU, compiled without input from The Trust in 1992 and choreographed by Candlelight's own superstar Sue Stroman) is produced contemporarily. Wonderful tunes in those shows but the plots are silly. The Gershwin Trust could make a lot more money if they gave those other 16 shows to new writers to produce.
Even in the 1992 version which opened at Candlelight last weekend, some of the songs appear out of nowhere. (You remember that Rodgers & Hammerstein completely changed the dynamic of musicals with OKLAHOMA!, where the songs PROGRESSED the plot. I got this non-sequitur vibe with "Someone To Watch Over Me". The song is gorgeous, it simply did not fit the mood of the scene. And then, the NY follies girls serendipitously appear as if out of a mirage to nowhereville Deadwood Nevada. That said, the audience is sure happy they did!
It appears this is my suggestion column. Director/Choreographer Dann Dunn is highly respected in this region and justifiably so. He brings great creativity and energy to all his projects. I will conjecture that to Candlelight he also brought along the costumes of the follies girls. They stood in stark contrast to the outfits of the core group. Why does not Candlelight reach out to UD Rep Ensemble or DE Theatre Company to augment their inventory? The talented character actor Barry Gomolka plays Everett, the country bumpkin from Deadwood. Why did he first appear in an outfit as if he had just left work and rushed to the theatre for the show? Why not beat up overalls? The female lead Polly (Madison Buck) wore what appeared to be hand me downs from the Amish.
Sue Stroman utilizes everyday props and set pieces for choreographic inspiration. (Think the grandmas in THE PRODUCERS with their walkers). Dunn continues this theme. The dancing by his supremely talented troupe is the highlight of the show. The women are not only extraordinarily talented but also easy on the eyes. (I recognize this is sexist, but give a septuagenarian a pass).
The finale for Act I, "I Got Rhythm" is all razzle-dazzle glitz and electricity. It is worth the price of admission alone. Who doesn't like thundering tap? There is a profusion of this in the show and the audience ate it up.
"Slap That Bass" deployed an ingenious take off of a bass instrument. The cowboys: Devon Sinclair, Chris Millison, Daniel Irwin, Zachary DeBevec and ChristIan Ryan tap as well as the women (and that's saying something).
Max Redman as Bella Zanger finally had an opportunity to show his acting chops. The mirror image scene, reminiscent of Groucho Marx in DUCK SOUP, Redman played with male lead Bobby Child (Nate Golden) was deftly staged and quite amusing.
Candlelight's resident siren, the long legged and seductive Kaylan Wetzel, had the men at the tip of their seats with her "Naughty Baby". Her character Irene initially abhors Lank (Anthony Connell) but they soon develop a fascination for one another. Both actors can sling a zinger or two: Irene: "If you were my husband, I'd kill myself". Lank: "Quick. Find a minister"!
Eugene and Patricia Fodor (Topher Layton and Lindsay Mauck) provided comic relief. Their takes are hysterical to watch. (I first thought Layton's character was Teddy Roosevelt with an English accent).
Nate Golden has an excellent voice and a great dancer as well. I get the sense that Polly would have greater impact with the audience if she immersed herself in the lyrics and let the beautiful melodies carry through to engage us. (That's what Judy Garland always said). As the shows progress, there will be more chemistry between the two.
As a side note, my dear sister Liz and I enjoy schmoozing with new people each opening night at our 5-6 top. The Wisnewski's from Wilmington, who had been to Candlelight only once before, have been voted our all-time favorites. We hope they attend opening night with BAREFOOT IN THE PARK.
Through June 25 CandlelightTheatreDE.com 302.475.2313