MIDVALE — Crazy for You captures music and material from several existing productions that developed into a Tony award winning musical in 1992. The show stems from a script by Ken Ludwig and music and lyrics from the early 20th century compositions of brothers George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Sugar Factory Playhouse’s rendition of Crazy for You, directed by Liz Smith, offers both praiseworthy aspects and shortcomings.
The story follows the likable lead character Bobby Child who is thrust from New York, causing him to abandon his dancing aspirations. Bobby is sent by his mother to backwoods Nevada to close on a banking deal when he finds instantaneous love with affable Polly Baker. Unfortunately, because Bobby is in Deadrock, Nevada to close the beloved run-down theatre, Polly naturally sees him as an enemy upon hearing his name. Bobby Child then poses as New York big shot Bela Zangler to win back Polly’s affections. Per the usual theatrical sequence, the real Zangler appears in Deadrock, and Polly is forced to decipher what is true and which man, if either, she loves.
Crazy for You had a bit of a rough start continuing through the majority of Act I. Most notably, sound (by Viveann Dalley) needed some serious attention. In the opening numbers, I was unable to hear the vocals, because the music was overpowering and the mics seemed to be in and out with some of the actors. When Bobby, played by Daniel Fifield, sang “K-ra-zy for You,” and, “I Can’t be Bothered Now,” it was so tiring and difficult trying to hear and enjoy Fifield’s vocals. Thankfully, the sound issues did not distract from enjoying the fantastic tap-dancing skills Fifield flaunted. However, there were several occurrences of screeching audio feedback that were certainly less than enjoyable. Adjustments were made and these issues lessened as the play progressed.
Act I was also somewhat stagnant. I found the first thirty minutes to be drab and lacking energy and entertainment. Fortunately, I was not in for three hours of slow movement. The show started to pick up at the end of Act I; act II moved much better, had higher energy, and was more comfortable. My only other technical criticism would be the scene transitions. Blackouts were used for each scene change, which is no problem, but at times the transitions got lengthy, and there was no music in the background. It felt awkward to be sitting in total darkness hearing only the shuffling about on set. The blackout scene changes would have been a more appropriate time for the blaring music of the beginning of the play or perhaps a half-light if it is going to be a long process.
Despite the above-mentioned issues in need of smoothing out, Crazy for You did have some impressive features to offer. The costume design (by Deborah Wouden and Joey Calkins) was appropriate and fun. The Zangler Follies had several fun costume changes, and the men’s suits worn by characters Bobby and Zangler looked authentic and time appropriate. The choreography had captivating moments as well, including an ensemble number with tin plates, thrilling staged fights amongst the cowboys, and delightful dance numbers between the lovers Polly (played by Kimberly Robbins) and Bobby. The number, “Embraceable You,” was a favorite dance number of mine highlighting Robbins and Fifield.
Additionally, the acting had some strong scenes and players. My biggest commendation goes to Robbins’s vocals as Polly. In the song, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” I was affected by the strength and clarity of her voice; her emotional delivery gave me goosebumps. Another number worth mentioning, “What Causes That,” showcased Fifield as Bobby and Bob Bedore as Bela Zangler. Both actors were hilarious, convincing, and both played off each other well. Bedore had an excellent comedic presence whenever he appeared on stage. For Austin Bunkall’s first experience on stage, he gave an effective performance of the “irritated by the hubbub” cowboy Lank Hawkins. Finally, the amusing dynamic of the Follies and the cowboys kept the momentum of the show going and added considerable laughs. The ensemble numbers mostly came together well with, “I got Rhythm,” as a personal favorite.
Crazy for You does display some talented acting, moving vocals, and astounding tap dance moves. However, those aspects may not be enough to save the show from the slow first act and the technical issues. With some re-calibration after opening night, Crazy for You could be worth the $12 ticket price for some audiences.