Crazy for You” revels in the silly, that’s for sure. With its madcap plot about a gaggle of showgirls from New York traipsing off to a Nevada ghost town so they can help “put on a show,” things turn goofy fast. Add a super-value-size meal’s worth of mistaken-identity gags and you get a lot of slapstick for your buck.
But just as the whole thing seems destined to be no more than an insubstantial giggle fest, one of the show’s classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin comes along to add some heft to the outing. When the sturdy and no-nonsense heroine, Polly (Emily Pessano), who seems like the last gal in the world to fall for a splashy theater type named Bobby Child (Greg Grannis), stops to sing a pensive ballad, it’s none other than the famed “Someone to Watch Over Me” by George and Ira Gershwin. With credentials like that, you’re starting on solid ground.
And when the energetic cast in the new Good Company Players production at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater digs into the real meat of the show — the tap dancing — they do a sparkling job. The first-act finale, “I Got Rhythm,” choreographed by Kaye Migaki, is an explosion of sound, spectacle, flying feet and enough props to stock a Western supply store. Talk about a take-away tune for the audience to hum during intermission.
Considering that it’s filled with the Gershwin brothers’ music and lyrics, “Crazy for You” is actually a relatively new platform of their songs. It’s based largely on their 1930 musical “Girl Crazy,” but with songs from some of their other shows thrown in. “Crazy” opened on Broadway in 1992 with a book by Ken Ludwig, and it went on to win the 1992 Tony Award for best musical.
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This Good Company production, solidly directed by Dan Pessano, doesn’t always reach the light-as-whipped-cream heights it needs in order to pull off the effortless glee of the material. (For one thing, some of the dance numbers feel cramped, always a challenge in Roger Rocka’s. I hate to say it, but fewer dancers can look better in this space.) But the comic timing is crisp, the sets (by David Pierce) and costumes (by Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed) are clever, and the second act, in particular, charges along with old-fashioned appeal.
One standout for me in the cast is the very funny Teddy Maldonado as Bela Zangler, the harumphing owner of the Zangler Follies in New York. Bela isn’t impressed when Bobby, who’s grown up in a rich banking family, tries to audition for the stage. The dejected Bobby decides to obey his domineering mother (a wonderful Laurie Pessano) when she orders him to Nevada to foreclose on a theater there.
Two other standouts are Brianne Janae Vogt, as Irene, who is engaged to the reluctant Bobby, and Ashley Wilkinson, as Tess, one of the follies girls, who is the object of Bela’s affections. Both women deliver their laugh lines with consistent precision, and their energy lights up the stage.
This isn’t one of my favorite roles of the many that Emily Pessano has played for Good Company. Her Polly — who gets involved in a love “triangle” with Bobby and Bela as the town stages a show to save the theater from foreclosure — seems a little too refined in the beginning, and I don’t think her vocal range is a perfect fit for the Gershwin songs she sings. But she’s still strong and confident in the role. Likewise, I never truly warmed up to Grannis as Bobby. He’s a fine dancer, but his vocals could be stronger, and the chemistry between him and Pessano has a pretty weak spark.
Greg Ruud, playing the closest thing to a “villain” in the piece, offers some nice texture to the overriding sweetness of the show.
The two “stars” of “Crazy for You,” however, turn out to be pretty special: the dancing and those beautiful Gershwin songs.
When Bobby sings “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” it’s like taking a drink of champagne and reveling in the fizz. Here’s a toast to a couple of Broadway greats.