Review: ‘Crazy for You’ at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre

Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre’s production of Crazy for You is a fabulous celebration of song, music, and dancing. The 1992 musical, with a Book by Ken Ludwig and Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, is based on the Gershwins’ 1930 musical Girl Crazy while incorporating other of their musical numbers as well. This version is directed by Vince Musgrave, with Andrew Gordon as Choreographer, using Susan Stroman’s original Broadway choreography. It is an amazing display of talent, reminiscent of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ work.

‘Crazy For You’ at Annapolis Summer Garden Theater. Photo by Alison Harbaugh, Sugar Farm Productions.

Jonathan Jackson bursts with energy as Bobby, a young man looking for his break as a performer in New York. Trying to audition for Bela Zangler’s (Josh Mooney) revue, he tap dances and spins around in “K-ra-zy For You.” In “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” he glides around the stage in joy. He is also wonderful at physical comedy: traveling to the sleepy town of Deadrock, Nevada, he collapses after stumbling into the saloon, then begins “Things Are Looking Up” on his knees. He also sings the slower, softer songs well, like “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” a tender song as he leaves the town.

Emma Godfrey gives a fierce strength to Polly, daughter of the owner of the Deadrock’s rundown theater. She flings Jackson away as he declares his love for her, shutting him down in “Could You Use Me?” After trying to break away from him at the start of “Shall We Dance?” she makes a perfect partner, ingeniously dancing together. She takes the lead in “Embraceable You,” wrapping her arms around Jackson and moving him to her rhythm. “I Got Rhythm” (made famous by Ethel Merman) is an action-packed song that has her tap dancing on tables. She can also do the more emotional songs, like in “Someone to Watch Over Me,” revealing her desire for love, or “But Not for Me,” a heartfelt song of loss and heartbreak.

The Quartet of Andrew Gordon, Logan David Donnelly, Robbie Dinsmore, and Tyler McKay White is a fabulously talented group of singers and dancers. Their first song, “Bidin’ My Time” is a lazy western sung as they lie around the streets of Deadrock. “The Real American Folk Song” has them gliding across the stage, spinning and leaping. They shine in “I Got Rhythm,” tap dancing on tables and tin foil sheets.

Skye Martin plays Irene, Bobby’s fiancé, with a dominating fury, following him to Nevada demanding he marry her. She has perfect comic timing trading insults with Lank (Brian Kraszewski). She shows her sultriness in “Naughty Baby,” straddling a table, tying up Kraszewski with her scarf, and jumping onto his back.

Josh Mooney plays Zangler with excellent comic timing and a humorous European accent. He and Jackson are hilarious in “What Causes That?”, staggering drunk around the stage before dancing on chairs and tables.

The Follies Girls (Amy Luchey, Amanda Cimaglia, Caitlyn Ruth McClellan, Debra Kidwell, Lacy Kraszewski, and Kelsey Luchey) dazzle in “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” with clever wordplay and gorgeous movement. “Girls Enter Nevada” has them moving with military precision, to wild reaction by the town locals. Their final number is just stunning.

‘Crazy For You’ at Annapolis Summer Garden Theater. Photo by Alison Harbaugh, Sugar Farm Productions.

Set Designer Todd Croteau has created a set that handles the different locations. Four brick walls on rollers line the back of the stage, each with a stage door in the middle. On the other side are stage fronts to the saloon and theater. A red English phone booth is on the right side. In the center stage is an open hallway. For the saloon scenes, a piano is in the left-hand corner, while a table and chairs go in the center, and a small bar in the right corner. The theater has musty curtains hanging up, a chest of old costumes, and a hat rack. Stairs by the center lead to an open second story.

Costumers Miriam Gholl and Beth Deitrick create period costumes that help distinguish each character. Bobby starts in black pants, a white shirt, and black vest, later wearing a white suit. His final number has him in a white tux. Polly begins in a simple blue dress, then changes into khaki slacks and a green shirt. She ends the show in an elegant white dress. Irene wears a tight, frilly red dress with black, elbow-length gloves and a mink stole. The Follies Girls wear short, purple showgirl skirts with sparkly tops. They end in white outfits. Tommy Malek’s Hair and Wig Design has distinctive headpieces for Zangler and Bobby.

Lighting Designer Thomas Gardner uses lighting to great effect. During Polly’s solo, the spotlight focuses on her. They darken for Polly and Bobby’s dancing to highlight the two. Sound Designer Chris Timko throws out great sound effects, such as a piano playing and gunshots firing.

Music Director Anita O’Connor does a wonderful job, as does Conductor Ken Kimble leading the musicians from behind the stage. The music comes through beautifully, blending well with the performers’ singing. The familiar songs have catchy beats that get the audience tapping along.

Choreographer Andrew Gordon has done an excellent job adapting Susan Stroman’s choreography. It is spectacular to watch, with lifts, high kicks, and twirls throughout the show. “Slap That Bass” is a particularly inventive number, with the women holding strings to imitate bass while the men pluck them and sway them around. The stage is full of beautiful movement, and the performers make it all seem natural. Vince Musgrave is a fantastic Director. The performers all work well together, navigating the stage and each other easily. They sing with great power and emotion and have perfect timing. It is an excellent mixture of music, singing, and dancing, making the show feel like a star-studded, old-time musical. You’d be crazy to miss it!

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

Crazy for You plays through June 15, 2019, at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre – 143 Compromise Street, in Annapolis, MD. Tickets are available at the door, the box office at (410) 268-9212, or online.