Winding down its lengthy UK tour at Curve this week, Crazy For You is publicised as a “high energy, high kicking and gloriously glamorous” production, but unfortunately it feels like anything but.
With music and lyrics penned by the Gershwin brothers, this production stars Tom Chambers as Bobby Child, Claire Sweeney as Irene Roth and Charlotte Wakefield as Polly Baker.
It’s a simple story full of mistaken identities, heartbreak and a happily-ever-after, but what sets Crazy For You apart from other classic musicals of the same genre such as Singing In The Rain and Calamity Jane is the sheer predictability of it. I imagine most could leave during the interval and predict every second of Act Two right down to the corny, anticlimactic end.
Having said that, there are some memorable tunes and the ground around me was actually shaking at times from audience members tapping their feet along to the music. I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Embraceable You are certainly Gershwin classics you’ll be humming all the way home.
Charlotte Wakefield was a charming Polly Baker, and a likeable presence on stage. Polly is a tomboy and the “only girl in the town”, so spends her days batting away unwanted proposals from every man she comes across. That is, until she meets Bobby Child, who eventually sweeps her off her feet and carries her off into the sunset, via a giant flying moon (yes, really).
I couldn’t warm to Strictly Come Dancing winner, Tom Chambers, as Bobby Child though, and I have seen much better renditions of the part. Although clearly a very talented dancer, Chambers seems to take the character’s surname literally and rather than nailing the slapstick humour, instead just seemed to be overly childish in the part. Clearly inspired by John Cleese, there are a few funny moments but largely he misses the mark and a lot of key comedy timing moments while he’s at it.
Claire Sweeney’s rendition of Irene did grow on me throughout the performance, although I felt she could have played the cast-aside fiancé slightly less over-the-top to make more of an impact.
One aspect of the production I did enjoy, however, is the staging of the ensemble who double up as an on-stage orchestra (aside from the character who apparently learns to skilfully play the double bass in 30 seconds flat).
This is a cast clearly full of very talented actors, singers and dancers but it was evident that this is the end of a long tour and as a result the show feels tired and incredibly underwhelming from the start.
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury
Photo: Richard Davenport
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