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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

REVIEW: Crazy For You at Newcastle Theatre Royal



Its Got Rhythm!

Crazy For You
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 16th September 2017

Music:       George Gershwin
Lyrics:      Ira Gershwin
Book:        Ken Ludwig

Photo Richard Davenport
Photo Richard Davenport
Crazy For You is a light-hearted feel-good story full of memorable songs by the American Gershwin brothers. The cast succeed in singing, dancing and performing the music live on stage, sometimes all at the same time, which is an achievement in itself.
 
Photo Richard Davenport
Photo Richard Davenport
Based on the Gershwin’s 1930 musical Girl Crazy, it also features a number of songs from their other musicals. The tale involves Bobby Child (Tom Chambers) who wants to be on stage but his mother wants him in banking. She sends him off to Dead Rock Nevada to foreclose on a rundown theatre, leaving the lover she disapproves of, Irene (Caroline Flack) behind.
Photo Richard Davenport

Photo Richard Davenport
He arrives in the town and falls in love with both the potential of the theatre and the daughter of its owner Polly Baker (Charlotte Wakefield). The plot thickens as nearby saloon owner Lank (Christopher Fry) also wants the theatre to close so he can expand his own business. Bobby hatches a plan to impersonate the infamous theatre impresario Bela Zangler (Neil Ditt), who had previously rejected him after an audition in New York, in order to put a show on at the failing theatre.
 
Photo Richard Davenport
Photo Richard Davenport
What makes the show distinctive is the ensemble of 16 musicians who create Gershwin’s fabulous music on stage whilst taking a full part in the acting and dancing on stage. The ensemble worked incredibly hard, a lot of multitasking was needed in this production by its cast. It is sometimes a little chaotic - but it works. Credit to choreographer Nathan M Wright for the dance routines and off stage musical director Benjamin Holder who kept the music together.
 
Photo Richard Davenport
Photo Richard Davenport
Tom Chambers is a class act with a combination of dancing and acrobatics. The trouble is that he makes the tricky stuff often look too easy.
 
Photo Richard Davenport
Photo Richard Davenport
Charlotte Wakefield keeps her role as the only girl in town feminine without heading down the Calamity Jane path.  She got to lead on the big finish to the first act with I Got Rhythm - a number which helped bring an otherwise slow act to a blistering conclusion.

Photo Richard Davenport
Act two was much better for pace though it was still full of some really bad puns. Jokes aside, the cast made full use of Diego Pitarch’s set design to bring the bigger pieces alive. Tom Marshall’s sound design produced a great sound from the beginning and Howard Hudson’s lighting design picked off the action appropriately. A mention too for Diego’s Pitarch’s costume design which often looked very glamorous during the dance routines.
 
Photo Richard Davenport
Crazy For You will appeal to both lovers of the golden age of the American Musical and fans of Gerswin’s catchy tunes. The show put me in a good mood for the rest of the week.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Tickets:
Crazy for You plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 12th - Saturday 16thSeptember 2017 with evening performances at 7.30pm and matinees on Wed & Thu 2pm and Sat 2.30pm. Tickets from £17.50 can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21.  Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge or book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk  

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