A Phenomenal Review of CRAZY FOR YOU by Lyle Huchton of The Column by John Garcia

We’ve been excited about CRAZY FOR YOU at PlazaCo for a long time. So we have been disappointed on occasion to hear:

“Well, I want to see Treasure Island and Annie, so I think I’ll take that Crazy For You show off since I’ve never heard of it.”

Friends, we’re here to tell you that CRAZY FOR YOU is the best little musical you’ve never heard of. Bursting with fabulous Gershwin songs, this hilarious musical will have you tapping your toes all the way home. Don’t believe me? Just read on for Lyle Huchton’s excellent review from The Column by John Garcia. Then give us a call at 817-202-0600 to get your seats.

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_________________________CRAZY FOR YOU_______________________

Reviewed by Lyle Huchton, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN

“I’m chipper all the day,
Happy with my lot.
How did I get that way?
Look at what I got.”

From “I Got Rhythm” by George and Ira Gershwin

I had this song stuck in my head. I had this song stuck in my head so bad that I had to Google it to find out what the correct lyrics were so I could sing it. And I never sing, ever. Not even “Happy Birthday”. Yes, you are reading this clearly so I might as well go ahead and admit it. I, Lyle Huchton, was singing a song associated with a musical (Notice how I cleverly avoided the phrase show-tune). What brought about this sudden change was Plaza Theatre Company’s production of Crazy for You.

What I observed there Saturday night was so lively and spirited, it made even me want to jump up on stage and join in. So I pretended that I did join in. Well…. only a few times in my living room; also in the car to and from work, and in the shower too. But those were the only times, cross my heart.

Crazy for You was penned by Ken Ludwig using songs written by the 1930’s songwriting team Ira and George Gershwin from their musical, Girl Crazy. Sometimes called “The Gershwin Musical” because not only did it incorporate music from Girl Crazy, it also included songs from several of their other productions. Crazy for You won the Tony award for Best Musical in 1992.

Anyone familiar with this show would agree that the biggest challenge in producing it would be the dancing. Heavy on tap with some ballroom thrown in, it would be exhausting for the most seasoned dancers. At Plaza, challenge is the name of the game. What they did to tackle this challenge was to hire not one but three choreographers.
Courtney Sikorah and Tabitha Barrus took care of the tapping part, and Rachel Hunt did the ballroom. Typically too many cooks in the kitchen are not a good thing. In this instance it worked because it allowed each choreographer to concentrate on their particular forte. This in turn gave them the opportunity to focus on each performer’s strong suit to enhance each dance number.

Director Jay Lewis, who was also credited with the set design and played a small supporting role, was able to find an equally balanced cast. Usually Plaza double-casts all of its shows but in this case decided to double only a handful of performers and permitted most to alternate between every other show. I would encourage them to consider this formula more often. It greatly improved the overall cohesion of the piece.

Jonathan Metting has become a staple at Plaza, taking significant roles in several past productions. And with good reason – he can sing. Here, as the romantic male lead Bobby Child, Mr. Metting created some of the evening’s best vocals with “Things are Looking Up” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”. He likewise had a great look that was a nice fit into the time period in which the musical was set. Although he had a few minor slip-ups with his tap dancing, he went after the role with gusto and gave one of his best performances to date.

Playing the female romantic lead was Kasi Hollowell as Polly Baker. I felt she started out a little too quiet and timid but warmed up with a lyrical version of “Someone to Watch Over Me”, and an equally nice duet with Mr. Metting in “Embraceable You”.

There were some very nice performances in the supporting roles too. The character of Bela Zangler was so broadly written that it would be easy for the actor who played him to fall into cliché. Kyle Macy, as Zangler, did not allow this to happen but kept a firm grip on his character’s choices and gave a consistent and believable performance.

As Bobby’s overbearing mother, Lottie Childs, Soni Barrus completely embodied this character. Not only did she look like a million dollars by being wrapped in fur and dripping in jewels, but her comic delivery was impeccable.

Caitlan Davis as Bobby’s snotty finance Irene Roth was equally as funny. Especially in the first act when she and Lottie got at it tit for tat. She as well took her chance to shine with an impressive
“Naughty Baby”.

Within the large company providing jovial, highly entertaining performances include Luke Hunt as Lank Hawkins, Caroline Rivera as Patricia Foder, and the cowboy comedic trio portrayed by JaceSon P. Barrus, Josh Leblo, and G. Aaron Siler.

Capturing the look, feel and energy of this production were the Follies Girls. The first time they appeared onstage, popping out of a car like frothy pink bubbles to join Bobby in the feisty number “I Can’t be Bothered Now”, Rachel Hunt, Stefanie Glenn, Tabitha Barrus, Monica Glenn, Faith Brown, and Cessany Ford, grabbed the ball and ran, executing a flawless tap time step routine. In the number “I Got Rhythm” they would impress again by tapping with props ( such as gold miner’s tins used as tambourines), and swinging on pick axes that accented the music and heightened the choreography. Adorable and flirty, this group of “Gershwin Darlings” was worth the price of admission alone.

Altogether, the company not only danced well but produced some amazing vocals including the numbers “Slap That Bass” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It”.

Costume Designer Tina Barrus was one member of this company who did not shy away from a challenge. Constructing the vast amount of costumes needed for this show in itself was impressive. Being able to do it well while taking into consideration character motivation and movement only validated the fact that Ms.Barrus is one of the best costumers around. I hope that the performers who got to wear one of her creations realized how incredibly lucky they are.

Plaza Theatre Company’s production of Crazy for You should come with this warning: The infectious nature of this musical may cause outbursts of joyful singing, and an unending desire to tap dance. It is so powerful that it has been known to break through to even the crabbiest of grouches.

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