THEATER REVIEW Couldn't ask for anything more with 'Crazy for You'
The Muhlenberg College Music Theatre (MSMT) 33rd-season opening production of "Crazy for You" is crazy fun and crazy good. It's as if an MGM musical has come to life in west Allentown in Technicolor.
The all-dancing, all-singing musical with many of George and Ira Gershwin's most popular songs (12 in Act One and eight in Act Two), continues through June 30, Dorothy H. Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
MSMT's "Crazy for You" is high-energy summer entertainment for the entire family. The show is a refreshing escape from the workaday world.
The musical, with "co-conception" by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent and the book by Ludwig ("Lend Me A Tenor"), is based on the Gershwins' 1930 musical, "Girl Crazy," and received 1992 musical and choreography Tonys.
The plotline is silly beyond belief, down to a shameless reference to "Mickey and Judy" putting on a show.
Bobby Child (Frankie J. Grande), escaping the financial clutches of his mother, Lottie (JoAnn Wilchek Basist), wants to be a song and dance man.
Lottie has her eye on the Gaeity Theatre, Deadrock, Nev., previously run by now-retired director, Everett (Neil Hever). Bobby's sent to deliver the foreclosure goods.
Instead, Bobby, posing as theater impresario Bela Zangler (Jarrod Yuskaus-kas), and Everett's daughter, Polly (Sari Weinerman), fall in love.
Irene (Chelsea Montgomery-Duban), in love with Bobby, follows him to Deadrock. She meets Lank Hawkins (Steve Bauder), Lank's Saloon owner who also wants to buy Gaeity music hall.
The MSMT production fills in the plot's paucity with spectacular pastel costumes by Nicole Wee, inspired art deco and frontier set designs by Campbell Baird, wonderful washes of lighting by John McKernon, a great brassy 13-piece orchestra conducted by Michael Schnack and music directed by Ed Bara, incredible tap-dance choreography by Karen Dearborn and superb direction by Charles Richter.
Grande is to the role of Bobby born. He slides, glides and pirouettes across the stage. When he sings "I'm dancing and I can't be bothered" in one of the many big numbers with the Follies Girls in full force, you believe him.
Weinerman is in warm and robust voice as Polly. She's memorable in several spotlight numbers, especially: "Someone To Watch Over Me" and "But Not For Me."
Grande and Weinerman are a terrific duo in "Embraceable You."
Weinerman and the show's ensemble bring Act One to an incredible conclusion with "I Got Rhythm."
Grande and Yuskauskas are side-splittingly funny in "What Causes That?"
Kevin Kulp (Sam), Joe Marx (Mingo) and Zach Love (Moose) display delicious close harmonies on "Bidin' My Time."
Montgomery-Duban is a show-stopper vocalist and dancer in "Naughty Baby."
Wilchek Basist is a delight in her reactions. Hever is funny with his slow burns. Bauder is a campy bad guy.
Russell Norris (Eugene) and Caitlin Sing (Patricia) as the guide-book Fodors steal the scenes they're in.
One quibble: several "gunshots" are too loud. If warning signs were posted opening night, June 12, at theater entrances, I missed them.
That said, MSMT's "Crazy for You" asks the musical question, "Who could ask for anything more?," and has all the right answers.