- OnStage Massachusetts Critic
WALTHAM MA - Crazy for You features music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin and book by Ken Ludwig. Taking place in the 1930’s in New York City and Nevada, it is a tale about a boy with big showbiz dreams, his mother who has her own agenda for his banking career, the small town country girl he falls for and her big money problem that he attempts to solve. With Broadway veterans Kirby Ward, who also directed, and Beverly Ward leading the way as Bobby Child and Polly Barker; this classic musical was sure to thrill the audience and for most it did.
Ward, as Polly, beautifully sang the well-known “Someone to Watch Over Me” ballad, while her husband’s rendition of “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” was equally smooth and delightful. While both Kirby and Beverly Ward were enjoyable to watch, the standout performances of the night came from the multiple, energetic dance numbers featuring most of the cast dancing to original choreography from Susan Stroman that was re-staged by Eileen Grace. The tap dancing was superb and well executed by the talented cast. “Slap That Bass” was fun and enjoyable to watch while “I Got Rhythm” was a fantastic closing to act one.
The orchestra, led by music director and conductor Dan Rodriguez was truly in their element playing the fantastic Gershwin music. They were enjoyable to listen to. Unfortunately, they often over powered the ensemble soloist’s one line vocal parts, but that seems to be a regular sound problem of this theatre, one that could easily be fixed.
“What Causes That?” and the scene leading into it was near-perfectly executed by Kirby Ward as Bobby pretending to be Bela Zangler and Matthew Zahnzinger as the real Bela Zangler. Their mirroring movements had the audience chuckling and it was easily the best non-dance-number scene in the show.
While the show itself sounded good and had great dancing; the overall production was greatly diminished by one of the worst design choices I have seen at this theatre. Reflective mirrors or mirror-like material was used in the saloon set as part of the bar and unfortunately the lights easily bounced right off of it and into the eyes of the audience. Many of whom had to use their programs to shield their eyes or - I kid you not - put on their sunglasses in order to continue watching the scene. Personally, I alternated between closing my eyes and positioning myself right behind the head of the gentleman in front of me to decrease the awful effect. I expected this issue to be addressed during intermission as it was quite obviously a problem. After intermission I noticed many people in my section had moved from their seats to empty center seats or much further back in the auditorium in order to diminish the effect, which had not been corrected, before act two. While this was the biggest issue with the set, the other was the large amount of scenery and set pieces being used that made for longer transitions. Granted, transitions can always be tightened during a run, but the need for full size set pieces to depict every location is not always necessary. That being said, the set was detailed in its design and added grandeur to the show. The original costume design by William Ivey Long also added grandeur especially those costumes for Zangler’s Follies production.
Crazy for You plays until August 14th, 2016 at the Robinson Theatre (617 Lexington Street, Waltham, MA. For information and tickets visit www.reaglemusictheatre.
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/