The Manatee Players mine Gershwin's gold with Crazy for You.
By Kay Kipling
In these dog days of summer, the Manatee Players’ Crazy for You—bright, tuneful and energetic despite the heat—might be just the thing to pull you through another blistering week.
It’s not perfect (whatever is?), but overall director-choreographer Rick Kerby has assembled a strong cast and made the most of their talents. Plus, of course, there are all those great Gershwin songs, from Someone to Watch Over Me to They Can’t Take That Away from Me to Embraceable You.
The story of Crazy for You revolves around Bobby Child, a stagestruck young man (Michael DeMocko) whose mother insists he buckle down to work in the family banking business. That means he has to leave the bright lights of New York City (and all of its showgirls) behind when she sends him to foreclose on an old building in the ex-mining town of Deadrock, Nev.
Well, turns out the old building is a theater, and it’s owned by a feisty young girl named Polly (Andrea Wright) and her father. So once Bobby hits town, it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be romantic sparks and a “let’s put on a show” plot development.
Spicing matters up some more are the woman who insists she’s Bobby’s fiancée (Kali Westphalen), all those aforementioned showgirls (especially when they meet the rough-and-tumble men of Deadrock) and theatrical impresario Bela Zangler (John Andruzzi)—whom Bobby ends up impersonating. One of the funniest bits of this show is always when Bobby’s Zangler and the real Zangler come face to face in a drunken saloon spree; other highlights include the Act I closer I Got Rhythm, where the cast extracts rhythm out of every object they can lay their hands on, and Slap That Bass, another nicely staged number involving that stringed instrument.
As Bobby, DeMocko doesn’t boast a great singing voice, but he’s got some flair and some moves, dancewise, and he and Wright, who’s fine as Polly, connect well together on stage. Throw in a pleasing and utile set design by Marc Lalosh, some appropriately glam showgirl costumes by David W. Walker, and stalwart musical direction by Rick Bogner, and it all works out to be a good entertainment value.
Crazy for You continues through Sept. 6 at the Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre; call 748-5875 or visit manateeplayers.com.