Crazy for You
Produced by Must Come See Productions
Music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin; book by Ken Ludwig
Directed by Debra Boucaud-Mason
A review by Shivanee Ramlochan
On July 5, Queen's Hall resounded with the stomping of cowboy boots and the chorus calls of showgirls in the Nevada sticks, as Must Come See Productions presented Crazy for You, a 1993 romantic Broadway musical. The play was co-conceived by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent, and used music and lyrics written by George and Ira Gershwin.Crazy for You was directed by Debra Boucaud-Mason and featured the musical direction and conducting of Jessel Murray.Crazy for You's premise is formatted for straight-to-stage slapstick romantic comedy. It focuses on the brash Bobby Child (played by Isaiah Alexander), uninterested heir to his family's prosperous bank. Bobby's aspirations lean towards the theatre and he dreams of impressing the dramatic producing magnate Bela Zangler (Michailean Taylor). When Bobby is mandated by his mother Lottie (Germaine Wilson) to foreclose on a derelict theatre in the rural backwater of Deadrock, Nevada, he scarcely knows he'll meet the love of his life, Deadrock's sunny postmistress and plucky heroine, Polly Baker (Kendra Sylvester Flores).
Bobby is up against no shortage of challenges in trying to win Polly's adoration through reinstating Deadrock's Gaiety Theatre to its former glory: Polly's irate would-be beau Lank Hawkins (Anton Brewster); Bobby's own demanding fianc�e Irene Roth (Kimberly Jones)–not to mention the spirited resistance of Polly herself. Will Bobby be able to marshal his resources, save the Gaiety Theatre and win Polly's heart?Choreographed by Adele Bynoe, the production showcased several lively tap numbers–beginning with Bobby gamely tapping his heart out in an audition for Bela Zangler to the song K-ra-zy for You, to the full house finale in Act Two, performed by the entire company with cheery aplomb.If this indication of a happy ending acts as a spoiler to the events within Crazy for You, it really shouldn't–nothing about this play presents even a moment of intellectual consternation. Feel-good vitality is what the script possesses in droves, without a whit of introspection. The unfolding of this comedy of errors delves deep into slapstick treatment, steering clear of satirical heft or moral interjections.
The cast was commendably outfitted to reflect the disparate social standings of New York glitz versus Nevada homespun charm. Costuming choices were overseen by Andrew Seepersad, who opted to garb the Follies, Zangler's bevy of chorus girls, in a series of colourful and/or sequin-studded numbers in a wise reflection of musical theatre's glittery ostentation.Lighting, managed by Knolly Whiskey, also worked best when highlighting the New York/Nevada contrast. In the penultimate scene, a morose Bobby stands before a backdrop of the Zangler Theatre, the lighting an apt purple hue, underscoring his emotional low.The live accompanying orchestra, conducted by Jessel Murray and featuring the use of keyboard, reeds, guitars, trumpet, trombone and percussion, was in outstanding form. Enthusiastically performing the Gershwin brothers' score, the band occasionally overpowered the singing efforts of Crazy for You's cast, notably those performers assigned supporting roles.Property and head set builders Anika Best and Byron Joseph constructed a wonderfully interactive Deadrock Main Street, complete with Lank's Saloon and Hotel and the disused Gaiety Theatre. Their clever use of space, in formatting a pair of building storefronts, maximised cast interaction with the set, leading to several comedic interactions on its balcony, landing and shaky side steps. (However, there was only a projected background for the New York scenes, and no set.)
As the frequently irksome, quasi-loveable Bobby Child, Isaiah Alexander excelled, tapping, singing and sometimes overacting his heart out to the audience. His incarnation of Child was both credible and comical, which, for a romantic musical devoid of any substantial anchoring depth, signalled a laudable coup.The production's brightest star, however, was undeniably the dynamic and intuitive performance of Kendra Sylvester Flores as Polly Barker, a role decidedly less than Sylvester Flores' talent merits. As an audience member eagerly remarked during intermission, Sylvester Flores steals every scene she's in with her powerful singing, her immersive dedication to Polly's gumption and grit, her electric stage presence and her poise.A less accomplished Polly would have dulled Crazy for You's impact significantly, rendering it a charming yet forgettable foray into fluffy theatrical high jinks. Sylvester Flores's rendition helped pull it up short of slinking towards that fate.Crazy For You ran at Queen's Hall, St Ann's, from July 4-7.