If it was said of, Crazy for You, that it was full of cliché from romantic musical comedy, it would certainly be true, but it could only be said in the sense that treacle pudding or mom’s apple pie being the kind of comfort food preferred by people going down with a cold is also a cliché. Put briefly, ‘What’s wrong with that? It’s what you want when you’re feeling poorly’.
With its premiere in the early 1990s it was packaged nostalgia from the 1930s and reminded American audiences of the kind of thing their musical theatre used to do well in its heyday. In fact so familiar are some of the songs that it was difficult not to have the voices of Astaire and co. echoing through my mind as I watched. Which is not to say the cast didn’t stamp their own personality on the show. Tom Chambers as Bobby Child, the would-be dancer from a banking family, battling against his mother’s ambitions for him to go into the family business, has no trouble making the songs his own. Like all good dancers Mr. Chambers walks with a certain swagger and grace that suggest an innate sense of rhythm which makes breaking into a dance seem like the most natural thing to do. With numbers such as, Nice Work If You Can Get It, They Cant Take That Away From Me and Embraceable You (with Polly) he delivers comfort food of Michelin star quality.
The show is a celebration of the Gershwins and is based on their 30s show, Girl Crazy with the addition of songs from elsewhere in their output and an updated book by Ken Ludwig. This revival is above all a company show. The onstage cast act, sing, dance and play most of the instruments of the band -sometimes all at once. The whole exuberant concoction is a celebration of musical talent. Charlotte Wakefield as Polly, the ball-breaking tough gal in a one girl town finds the right balance between feisty and feminine which instantly wins the heart of Bobby. She’s equally happy in up-tempo numbers like I Got Rhythm as she is in the romantic, Embraceable You and the sentimental, But Not For Me.
Carving out her own piece of the pie is Caroline Flack as Irene whose up front Naughty Baby brings about as much sex appeal to the sex starved one horse town as it can take without bursting a blood vessel.
For the rest, as I say, bucketfuls of talent, costumes, sets, legs and lights with some vaudeville thrown in for good measure all add up to an evening of comfort and joy which musical theatre lovers will not want to miss. ★★★★☆ Graham Wyles at Bristol Hippodrome 11th October 2017