The reviews are in! Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Crazy For You, a brand new production just opened at the Chichester Festival Theater with direction and choreography by Susan Stroman.
"When shows are as good as this staging of Crazy For You, they’re little short of miraculous. Written by Ken Ludwig in 1992, based on show tunes by George and Ira Gershwin, the musical has been given a stunning revival by U.S. director Susan Stroman — who choreographed the original. Thirty years later, lightning has struck for her again.
With an exuberant company led by two fine young singers and dancers — Charlie Stemp and Carly Anderson — the story is about New York rich kid, Bobby, sent to close down a loss-making theatre in the American mid-West . . . only to fall head over heels for Polly, the straight-talking country girl who runs the tumbledown venue.
Yes, the show is blessed with fabulous songs including 'Someone To Watch Over Me', 'I Got Rhythm', and 'Nice Work If You Can Get It.' But it’s Stroman’s choreography that blows the roof off and wins standing ovations at the end of each half. Her dance routines are extravaganzas that escalate into multiple climaxes: leggy chorus girls revolving like spinning tops, cued by farmhands who play everything from the banjo to saw and washboards.
The idea of turning the girls into cellos fitted with ropes for strings plucked by the cowboys — or pendulums, with the girls standing on the boys’ pickaxes — was divine inspiration. With more taps than Thames Water, it’s the clatter of the company’s hooves that hits you in the chest. This is showbiz razzmatazz firmly grounded in boy-girl stereotypes that suspend all distinction between fantasy and reality. Anderson’s Polly probably has the best tunes and she secures them with a voice full of summer fruits — while being flung about the stage by Stemp in a whole range of moves from ballroom blitz to barn-side swing. Stemp (who played Bert the Chimney Sweep in Mary Poppins pre-Covid) leaps into shoulder high splits and can hold a tune, too.
But here he’ll be remembered best for combining the physical comedy of Norman Wisdom and the dancefloor artistry of Fred Astaire. Some of the funniest routines come courtesy of physical comedy past-master Tom Edden, who, as the show’s zany impresario, Bela Zangler, joins Bobby in a Marx Brothers mirroring routine.
With a kaleidoscopic turnover of stunning frocks, the backstage dressers alone deserve a gong. And Beowulf Boritt’s set is cunningly fitted with revolving flats to flip easily between New York and Nevada.
Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this, and if this show doesn’t get a West End transfer, it will be a crime against theatre."
Performances run until September 4, 2022.