BWW Reviews: Crown City Rocks with I'M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY


I'm Just Wild About Harry
adapted by Gary Lamb & William A. Reilly
based on Brandon Thomas' Charlie's Aunt
directed by Joanne McGee
Crown City Theatre
through July 17 (with possible extensions)

Fun, fun, fun! Think the zaniness of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and Brandon Thomas' Charlie's Aunt and then those crazy American stage musical parodies like Little Mary Sunshine and The Boy Friend, and you've nailed the nonstop comical antics of I'm Just Wild About Harry adapted by Gary Lamb and William A. Reilly at Crown City Theatre in NoHo. With slick direction from Joanne McGee and a super energetic cast, this musical is the perfect summer concoction.

Milwaukee U in 1910, a far more innocent time romantically, when girls needed chaperones and parental consent for marriage was a must. Harry (Matthew Thompson) and Jack (Mikhail Roberts) love Margie (Sarah French) and Katy (Melanie Taylor) , and their unions are about to be blessed by Harry's aunt Donna Lucia (Carol Jones), until one big snafu ruins the blissful picture - the aunt cannot make the announcement. So, Harry and Jack coax Babs (Douglas Thornton), who is playing Lady Bracknell in a production of Earnest on campus, to keep his makeup on and portray Donna Lucia. All hell breaks loose. It's a case of mistaken identity and lots of foolish romantic notions surface that are irresistible. Jack's father (Dave Berges) finds his true love and Katy's father Mr. Spettigue (Louis Silvers) thinks he's found his too in Babs. But, to further complicate matters, Ida (Lisaun Whittingham) has ideas of her very own. The ending, of course, is a happy one where all is resolved and everyone is paired off significantly; well, almost everyone.

Lamb and Reilly have incorporated all the wonderful ballads of days gone by like "Hello My Baby", "Look For the Silver Lining", "By the Light of the Silvery Moon", "My Buddy", a personal favorite, "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows", "Me and My Gal", "Bicycle Built For Two" and to be sure, "Wild About Harry".

The entire ensemble is perfection under the smooth and loving hand of director Joanne McGee, choreographer Stephanie Pease and musical director Bill Reilly. It is rare to find such split-second comedic timing done so staggeringly well by an entire company of actors who can also sing and dance their socks off. Thornton has a devilishly good time with temporary cross-dressing, as one line lingers deliciously in my mind "I'm a disgrace to my sex - both of them!" Set design by Keiko Moreno is plain, yet detailed with photos and memorabilia from the period. Costumes by Tanya Apuya are also period fine. It'll strike your fancy, so, get on out and head over to Crown City Theatre for an evening of nostalgia and great music.

They don't write musicals like this one any more. Simple and unadorned, without the special effects of an overblown SpiderMan, I'm Just Wild About Harry is truly great entertainment... for most ages.

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Photo credit: Ben Rovner

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