By Barry Reszel
If Matthew Crowle fails to receive 2017 direction and choreography Jeff Award nominations for Drury Lane Theatre’s scrumptious production of Crazy for You, the system is rigged.
A more enthusiastic recommendation for a big scale musical cannot be written. It’s a hit in every way possible.
Crazy for You is the 1992 Tony Award-winning best musical and a raucous romantic comedy. With a book by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and music by George Gershwin, it’s billed as “The New Gershwin Musical Comedy,” largely based on the songwriting team’s 1930 musical, Girl Crazy, but including songs from several other productions as well.
The story, set in the 1930s, centers around New York banker (and stage dancer wannabe) Bobby Child (Clyde Alves), who’s sent by his mother to foreclose on a small theater in a desolate Nevada mining town. He falls for local showgirl Polly Baker (Robyn Hurder) and looks to save the theater from foreclosure by bringing his New York friends to Nevada and putting on a show (the script even inserts the requisite Mickey Rooney joke). A full synopsis and production history may be read here.
Drury Lane’s wonderful production begins with it magnificent leads. Alves and Hurder own the stage in every scene they participate. Their Broadway and national resumes predict uber-profesionalism, and this pair does not disappoint. Knockout vocals and lithe dance moves make them a stunning pair to watch.
They are not alone.
The two are surrounded by a bevy of Chicagoland stage favorites in key comic roles and a precise singing/dancing ensemble that executes Crowle’s visually stunning choreography flawlessly. Larry Adams, William Carlos Angulo, Roger Mueller, Laura Savage and Rod Thomas are particularly memorable, but it’s almost unfair to name names. Every character onstage adds to the charm, laughter and romance featuring fabulous Gershwin standards including “I Can’t Be Bothered Now,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me,” among others.
Backstage is filled with as much talent as on. Jeffrey D. Kmiec‘s scenic design is detailed and magnificent, particularly the Nevada saloon. Lighting by Heather Gilbert is elegant and enhances specifically the scenes showing performers backstage. And Cailtin McLeod‘s costumes are rich, sexy and cowboy-infused as needed.
What Crazy for You does best is put Chicagoland’s top talent in an old-fashioned, big number-laden, tap-infused songfest that clips along and never drags. OK, there are moments in the second act that are a tad too silly, and some of the Gershwins’ songs (“Someone to Watch Over Me” particularly comes to mind) feel a bit shoehorned in. But those nits simply do not matter.
For those patrons looking to take their family to a musical this holiday season, Crazy for You is just the ticket. Don’t miss it.
Drury Lane Theatre presents “Crazy for You” through January 8, 2017, at 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. More information and tickets are available here.