Crazy for You at Shaftesbury Arts Centre

IN 1992 Crazy for You, a “new” Gershwin musical comedy, hit the stage, incorporating some of the songs from the original Girl Crazy and other Gershwin shows with a sort of mix-and-match story influenced by Anything Goes, Calamity Jane etc.

Set in Deadrock, Nevada (instead of Deadwood, South Dakota) and involving a young man who wants to dance, saving a theatre in the Wild West, in spite of his mother’s attempts to marry him off, it has some excellent song and dance routines but a story that strains credibility.

Shaftesbury Arts Centre’s theatre group has chosen the show for the big summer production, and it continues until 12th July, when the theatre goes dark for maintenance and new equipment.

Directed by Sophie Lester, choreographed by Barbara Arnold, Sophie Lester and Brenda White and performed on a clever set designed by Kim Pragnell, it’s a production with many impressive cameos and delightful moments.

Alex Chase, the current leading man of choice in and around Shaftesbury, has done some serious work in learning to dance like Bobby Child. The pity is that when he asks why he is so much better as the Bella Zangler he is impersonating, it’s true.

Lucy Hull is a terrific Polly, the girl he meets in Deadrock. The stage comes alive when she’s on, and she is the real deal, singing (in tune), dancing and acting all at the same moment.

The cowboy chorale, led by Philip White (who was so memorable as Sky Masterson at Gillingham School in February), joined the Follies girls in some glittering routines – perhaps the best dancing ever on the SAC stage.

Mark Blackham (as “baddie” Lank Hawkins) and Nicki Porter, as Bobby’s former fiancee Irene, had a showstopping moment, and the mirror-image Zanglers was nicely done by Alex Chase and the “real” producer Martin Porter.

There is lots to recommend this production, but a little less squealing and a bit more characterisation wouldn’t go amiss.


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