It's a “tap-tastic musical."
If you’re looking for songs to use as the basis of a musical comedy, Gershwin is always a winner.
“Crazy For You,” described as a “tap-tastic musical,” takes a leaf from the Ziegfeld Follies playbook, a series of musical revues that played from 1907 to 1931. Largely based on his 1930 musical “Girl Crazy” and featuring songs from several Gershwin shows, “Crazy For You” opened on Broadway in 1992 and ran four years, racking up four Tonys, including Best Musical.
Let’s face it, the plot is incidental to the dancing and songs. But it’s about a Broadway dance troupe that attempts to save a theater in a cowtown in Nevada from foreclosure. Why, you ask? Because it offers lots of possibilities for song and dance.
San Diego Musical Theatre offers “Crazy For You” through March 3 at the Horton Grand Theatre, directed by Kirsten Chandler.
Starring is indefatigable local favorite Jeffrey Scott Parsons as Bobby Child, who dances his heart out and is in practically every scene. Bobby is a wannabe dancer who keeps trying to get impresario Bela Zangler (of the Zangler Follies) to pay attention and hire him. Bela is played with great dismissive panache and a funny accent by David McBean (this sort of role is one of his specialties.)
Bobby, son of wealth, is sent to Deadrock, Nevada by his mother (Katie Gucik), to foreclose on the property there. He is followed by snooty Irene Roth (Kelly Derouin), the wealthy woman to whom Bobby has been engaged (against his will) for five years.
What he finds in Deadrock is a new love (local girl Polly Baker, played by Tayler Mettra) and a dilapidated theater owned by Polly’s dad (Richard Van Slyke). Local saloon owner Lank Hawkins (Edward Chamberlain) would like to expand into the theater. Lank also has designs on Polly.
When it looks like there’s no hope for the theater, Bobby comes up with an idea: “Let’s do a show, kids.” Bobby decides to make it look more “official” by pretending to be Zangler (accent, face fur and all). So, of course, Polly falls for “Zangler.”
But never mind, plot isn’t the point. It’s dance and great songs you’ve come for, and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Choreographer Jill Gorrie, who has done great work for SDMT before, does it again here, with a tap-heavy dance design that will keep your toes moving along with the music.
The song selection includes old favorites like “Bidin’ My Time,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “But Not For Me,” as well as the lesser-known “The Real American Folk Song” and the real show-stopper “Slap That Bass.”
Dwight Richard and Mathys Herbert have come up with a fine set design that moves easily from backstage New York to smalltown Deadrock.
Janet Pitcher’s costumes and Peter Herman’s hair and wig design set time and place nicely. Lighting and sound are well handled by Michelle Miles and Kevin Anthenill, respectively.
But it’s the music and dance you’ll remember. It is everywhere and practically nonstop. I left wondering how many pounds these folks lose every performance. Especially impressive are Parsons and Matthew Ryan, a chorus member who not only dances, but does some pretty impressive gymnastics.
Kirsten Chandler directs with a sure hand, and kudos must also go to Don LeMaster’s mighty orchestral forces.
If you’re a tap dance fan – or a Gershwin fan – this show is for you. And if you just want to relax and not have to think about Heavy Topics for a few hours, this show is for you too.
“Crazy For You” plays through March 3, 2019, the Horton Grand Theatre, 444 Fourth Avenue, downtown.
Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.
Tickets: (858) 560-5740 or sdmt.org