Getting ‘crazy’ at the Culbreth:
Gershwin classic hits Drama Department stage
The Drama department’s production of “Crazy for You” opens Thursday at Culbreth Theater and promises a tap-heavy, high-energy tale of love and humor. The show, directed by Drama Prof. Robert Chapel, will run Oct. 24-26, Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1-2.
Acclaimed upon its initial Broadway release in 1992, “Crazy for You” weaves together various classic tunes from Ira and George Gershwin, two brothers who achieved massive success in the 1930s with hit songs and musicals like “Porgy and Bess” and “Girl Crazy.” Featuring such recognizable ditties as “I Got Rhythm” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” the score was pieced together by veteran playwright Ken Ludwig, but the spirit of the Gershwins pervades the piece.
“Crazy for You” casts its gaze on Bobby Child, a restless banker whose anxiety concerning his future in 1930s New York City spurs him to trek across the country to a dusty Nevada town, disguised as Hungarian producer Bela Zangler.
“It is a show about mistaken identities and mixed-up love that results in comedy,” said Michael Long, a graduate Arts & Sciences student who plays Zangler.
Long is a third-year acting MFA candidate who has previously performed in the department’s productions of “Rhinoceros” and “Romeo and Juliet.” He said his background in physically-demanding shows helped him prepare for the show’s high-energy numbers like “What Causes That.”
“It is a combination of stylized physical comedy and song and dance,” Lond said. “It takes concentration and provides the opportunity to try to improve the precision every time we do it.”
Fortunately, Long and graduate College student Brad Fraizer, who plays Child, have experience perfecting such meticulously coordinated scenes together in the past.
“Brad and I have worked together many times before and have established a method and vocabulary for creating physical performances,” Long said. “Using these techniques together with the direction we receive from Bob Chapel we are able to specify the movement to maximize the comic potential.”
The production will also spotlight several powerful female roles, including fourth-year College student Kyle Hughes who will play “sultry” socialite Irene Roth. For this performance, Hughes worked with a vocal director to perfect Roth’s exaggerated upper class voice.
In addition to showcasing a number of strong characters, “Crazy for You” includes several showy tap numbers such as “I Can’t be Bothered Now,” reminiscent of older Broadway productions.
“This show could not exist without people who could tap dance,” Chapel said.
The ensemble prepared heavily for the show’s dance numbers, taking a week of dance classes before beginning standard rehearsals.
“Seeing girls who never tapped dance with girls who have tapped for 15 years, it’s fantastic,” said Kate Gadzinski, a fourth-year College student who plays “spunky” Nevadan Polly Baker.
Though the show’s light-heartedness doesn’t make it any simpler of a creative process, it does offer a break from the series of darker musicals Chapel has recently directed in the department, such as “Evita” and “Parade.”
“I’ve been thinking about doing this show for years,” Chapel said.