We’re “Crazy” about new Gershwin musical

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

“Crazy For You” is a musical rom-com warmly embraced by the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin.

Now running at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace, the song-and-dance extravaganza is loosely based on the 1930s Gershwin musical “Girl Crazy. The original production starred Ginger Rogers and marked the stage debut of Ethel Merman.

"Cast of Crazy for You" at Drury Lane Theatre
“Cast of Crazy for You” at Drury Lane Theatre Photo by Brett Beiner

The modern day interpretation opened on Broadway in 1992 and won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Choreography and Costume Design. Set in the Depression era, it portrays the revival of a defunct theater in the remote town of Deadrock, Nevada. Woven throughout are various subplots, a case of mistaken identity, comedic repartee, sight gags and energetic song and dance numbers.

Together and solo, the stellar cast performs such Gershwin classics as “I Got Rhythm,” “Stiff Upper Lip” and “Shall We Dance?” plus a few you may not have heard before. As for choreography, tap-dancing takes center stage, but ballroom and modern movement take turns as well.

Clyde Alves plays the role of lovestruck Bobby Child, an entertainer at heart whose mother demands he join the family banking business and head to Deadrock to foreclose on the theater there.

Robyn Hurder is the no-nonsense Polly Baker who craves both true love and success for her theater. You can guess the ending. After all, “Crazy for You” is a romantic comedy.

A real-life theatrical power couple, Alves and Hurder appeared on stage together in the 2012 Broadway production of “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”

Hurder is an exceptional vocalist with crystal clarity and impressive range. Her solo rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me” was so pure, it felt like a prayer.

Alves also sings a fine tune, but in duet, Hurder often overpowered him. Alves, however, is the superior dancer. He is athletic and balletic at the same time, and he’s a dynamo in tap shoes.

“Crazy for You” is directed and choreographed by Jeff Award winner Matt Crowle. The elaborate set design, a Drury Lane hallmark, is the work of Jeff Kmiec, another Jeff Award recipient. The Drury Lane Orchestra is conducted by Shawn Stengel who also plays keyboard.

DETAILS: “Crazy for You” is at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, through Jan. 8. For tickets and other information, call (630) 530-0111 or visit Drury Lane Theatre.

Reviewed by Pamela Dittmer McKuen

(Guest reviewer Pamela Dittmer McKuen  is an independent journalist and author who specializes in home, architecture, fashion and travel. Her bylines have appeared in the Chicago Tribune plus dozens of consumer, trade, association, corporate and collegiate publications. Visit her travel blog at allthewriteplaces.)

 

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