Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Theater review: Crazy for You by Stolen Shakespeare Guild at Sanders Theatre
Hokey and fun.
FORT WORTH The Gershwin musical comedy Crazy for You by Stolen Shakespeare Guild in the Hardy and Betty Sanders Theatre in Fort Worth is a fun, albeit hokey, little musical filled with classic music, laughter, and large company dances. Mistaken identities, one-liners, and silly miscommunications add comedy to the story while the characters follow their hearts for love.
The orchestra begins the show with an upbeat overture, setting the mood for a lighthearted night. The organ is placed in the middle of the stage below a sparkling sign that reads "Crazy For You." The floor is painted with swirls and stars. On either side of the orchestra are large silky red curtains which later reveal a set. The set design by Jason Morgan is simple and diverse. To the left we see a pair of swinging saloon doors and a sign reading "Lank's Saloon." To the right is a platform and building frame used as an entrance for many scenes. Assorted rustic wooden furniture is moved on and off the stage during scenes to represent several different locations. Morgan's design adequately sets the scene for a hotel, town hall, and theatre, to name a few.
The musical begins backstage at the Zangler Theater in New York in the 1930s. There we meet Bobby Child. While Bobby is the son of a rich banking family, his true dream is to one day act on the stage, and he is there hoping for an audition with Mister Zangler. He performs "K-ra-zy For You" but fails to impress Zangler when he lands his tap number on Zangler's foot. Jonathan Metting is charming as Bobby Child. He has a classic voice which is complimented by the play's classical music style. Metting creates a character with a personable and earnest nature that audiences are inclined to love. Seth Johnston plays Bela Zangler. Johnston is funny as the dirty Hungarian geezer who chases around the dance director Tess. He delivers a few great punch-lines mostly pertaining to his disdain for his wife.
Disappointed, Bobby leaves the theater. He is met by Irene, his fiancée of five years, and then by his mother who demands he carries out a banking ordeal for her. Irene Roth is played by Staci Ingram. Ingram is great as the spoiled and growingly impatient girlfriend. Hazel Murphy plays Bobby's mother. She is wonderful as the wealthy, nagging mother who often butts heads with Bobby. Their interactions together are natural and quite funny. Mother orders Bobby to go to Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on a rundown theater. Between Irene's nagging to marry and his mother's business demands, Bobby escapes into a daydream. He imagines himself dancing with Zangler's Follies Girls and joins them in "I Can't Be Bothered Now." This number is highly entertaining as Metting attempts to dance with nine lovely ladies decked out in sparkly pink dresses. The choreography by Stefanie and Monica Glenn for this number is comical and perfectly represents the idealistic illusion. Metting and the women entertain as they carry out an impressive tap routine. Snapped back to reality, Bobby decides to leave for Nevada.
Bobby arrives in Deadrock and quickly realizes the old gold mining town has become somewhat of a ghost town. The town is made up of a few moping cowboys. The Cowboy Trio made up of Moose, Mingo, and Sam are played by Walter Betts, John Tillman, and Alan Earl respectively. The trio sings "Bidin' My Time" and harmonize well while establishing the western theme with a long slow drawl. Meanwhile, Everett Baker receives a letter from New York warning about the bank foreclosing on his Gaiety Theater. His daughter Polly, who happens to be the only woman left in town, vows to get even with Bobby Child if she ever meets him. Jim Moss and Laura Stratton are great as Everett and Polly Baker. Moss plays a concerned father while Stratton is befitted as the feisty young cowgirl. At one point, Moss makes us laugh when talking about his daughter's reluctance in settling down. Polly says she will let him know when she's good and ready. Moss replies, "By that time you'll have to contact me through a medium!"
Bobby comes across Polly Baker and not realizing who she is, instantly falls in love. Jonathan Metting expresses Bobby's excitement in "Things Are Looking Up." Lank Hawkins, who is played by Travis Cook, is not thrilled to have a new rival for Polly's affections. Cook represents a man who is fighting to impress Polly and will fight to make her his girl. Metting and Stratton share a duet and good stage chemistry in "Shall We Dance?" The choreography in this number is fantastic! Stefanie and Monica Glenn incorporate jazz, tap, and perhaps even some ice skating techniques. The dance scene is engaging and charming.
The perfect moment doesn't last for long. Bobby soon finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place when he finds out that Polly is Everett Baker's daughter. He comes up with a plan to raise money for the theater while impersonating Mr. Zangler. Stratton expresses Polly's lonely heart in her touching performance of "Someone to Watch Over Me." Her voice is showcased in this number as the music takes her from a soft and airy beginning into a strong belting finale.
Crazy for You is a musical within a musical. The Follies Girls are led by entertaining dance captain Becca Brown whose high energy, funny facial expressions, and squeaky voice make her character Patsy an audience favorite. Brown leads eight other women and several cowboys in many large scale dances. During these company numbers, we see costume designer Lauren Morgan's beautiful ensembles. The girls are dressed in full skirts, pearls, and vintage hats of assorted colors. The men are dressed in jeans, boots, button-up cowboy shirts, hats, and bandanas. The cowboys in the play make quite a transformation. In the beginning, A. Solomon Abah, Jr., Lee Littlefield, and Nathan Autry (as Wyatt, Custus, and Harry), begin a pop-gun fight to scare the New Yorker. They hoot and holler and swig jars of whisky. When the beautiful dancers come to town, they jump at the opportunity to dance with them, with a little instruction of course. Walter Betts as Moose is entertaining as the clumsy cowboy who just can't seem to pick up on the dances. Metting as Bobby-being-Zangler tells him in his Hungarian accent, "I've got good news and bad news. Bad news is you won't be dancing in this number. Good news is ... you won't be dancing in this number." Moose instead attempts the cello. Betts' expresses surprise at his quickly learning to play the instrument, before he immediately leads the cast in "Slap That Bass."
Metting's comedic skills show through his impersonation act as Zangler. His timing is great. In his Hungarian accent the “director” orders the cast to, "Clean this place up. It looks like French Revolution." Much of the comedy in this musical comes from the classic tool of mistaken identities. It also features a Marx brothers mirroring routine! During "What Causes That?" Seth Johnston and Jonathan Metting both play a drunken Zangler that is uncertain if he is looking in the mirror. Johnston and Metting make us laugh as they mirror one another while expressing pure drunken confusion.
Staci Ingram is hilariously randy as Irene Roth in "Naughty Baby." She and Travis Cook perform an engaging number in which Irene seduces the excited and frightened Lank. Cook is funny as he reacts to Ingram's advances with mixed emotions. Randi Dougher makes us laugh as Tess when she exclaims, "I have an idea! I had an idea?" Jason Morgan and Kierstin Curtis are fabulous as Eugene and Patricia Fodor. The eccentric couple are awkwardly out of place in Deadrock. They share a ridiculously nervous laugh when they tell us that they left an old gentleman out in the desert. Crazy for You is indeed a hokey, fun, classic musical comedy. With the exciting company numbers and all the unique characters, you can't help but enjoy yourself!
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
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