Review: Crazy for You (Gillian Lynne Theatre)

Crazy for You, first assembled for the Broadway srage in 1992 and seen in the West End a year later, uses the 1930 musical Girl Crazy as an inspiration, while many sequences nod to triumphs of the genre on stage and screen, classic and modern.

One minute, you are thinking of Busby Berkeley’s chorus girls, then of Gene Kelly’s glorious rhythm stomps, then with a tip of the hat we are with Fred Astaire. Even the Marx Brothers get a crafty and hilarious tribute.

As for “putting on a show,” that was strictly 1940s territory for Mickey and Judy, who just needed the biggest barn in the world to make magic. So when we see Deadrock’s run-down theatre, we just know all will turn out fine.

Production photo fot Crazy for You

Transferring from Chichester with major cast members returning, Crazy for You‘s company is led by Charlie Stemp, who shows athleticism, a gift for comedy, and a sense of vocal and romantic energy any leading man of Holywood’s golden age might envy.

The songs, of course, are glorious, proving that age is no barrier (composer George Gershwin died in 1937). Not all are from Girl Crazy (which has been filmed twice but neither were particularly faithful to their stage origin), instead mining the best of the Gershwin songbook.

To quote a close contemporary of the Gershwins, whose songs pepper this lively revival, “the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye”, which is certainly true of Ken Ludwig’s tongue-in-cheek and fast-paced book.

Production photo for Crazy for You

This happy production is visually stunning, too, with glorious costumes (by William Ivey Long) and cleverly functional set design (by Beowulf Borritt), which wows when you least expect it.

As for the big numbers, Slap That Bass and I Got Rhythm, they are simply a joy to witness, the latter getting a mid-show standing ovation for its exhausting and inventive staging.

As a classic musical fan, I was entranced by the familiar songs George and Ira created nearly a century ago. You can’t beat a bit of Embraceable You or You Can’t Take That Away From Me.

Production photo for Crazy for You

You’ll watch this goofy show with a big grin of happiness. It has eye-popping colour, heaps of charm, and a talented ensemble full of star quality. Carly Anderson (Polly), Marc Akinfolarin (Moose), Mathew Craig (Lank), and Natalie Kassanga (Irene) especially caught my eye.

Susan Stroman’s assured direction and sparkling choreography lifts the spirits and fills the stage with fun, while Kai Harada’s sound and Ken Billington’s lighting bring all the fantasy and affectionate pastiche of the old-style shows to life.

Crazy for You continues at the Gillian Lynne Theatre: tickets here.

A solid *****

Image credit: Johan Persson

Note: I have to thank the FOH team for looking after my husband, who came with me and had a vertigo/panic attack just as the show started. Many thanks for caring and for re-seating him for act two.