Crazy for You at the Gillian Lynne Theatre
It was an apprehensive audience that filed into the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Would this revival of a 1992 musical, replete with staid premise, come off without inducing regular cringing? It was an overjoyed, dazzled audience that filed out: the production, based largely on George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930 stage work, Girl Crazy, had come off, and in quite some style.
This reinvigoration of the 20-year-old romcom may not innovate in its presentation – its Depression-struck America is wholly true to the original – but that far from renders it tired and unimpressive. Its setting and similarly unchanged characters are ideal vessels for the celebration of splendid choreography (courtesy of choreographer and director Susan Stroman), sparky humour (via Ken Ludwig’s script) and, above all, the magnificent songs from the Gershwin catalogue.
The music really is the making of this exceptional show. The composer’s oeuvre is ripe and ready for characters to burst into, and it doesn’t clunk into place like many other greatest hits musicals – partly because of the splendour and versatility of the songs themselves, and partly thanks to Ludwig’s intelligently put-together book.
Charlie Stemp shines in the starring role of Bobby Child, a city slicker, alien to the town of Deadwood, Nevada, where he falls for Polly, sung, danced and acted with equal aplomb by Carly Anderson. It’s a classic tale of discovery and romance in almost every way, but self-assuredly so. It doesn’t try to break ground in this respect, instead simply entertaining in the sparkly vaudeville manner that the music brings so naturally to mind; the whole production smacks of a glamorous and irresistible nostalgia. Staging and costume play their part admirably in making the experience astounding from start to finish – a tried-and-tested recipe crafted expertly into something freshly and eye-poppingly entertaining.
Photo: Johan Persson
Crazy for You is at the Gillian Lynne Theatre from 3rd July until 20th January 2024. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.