Glorious Gershwin Will Drive You Crazy
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
The Gershwin brothers were the golden boys of the Jazz Age and set the template for the American musical, as Wall Street was in crisis and Broadway was the only tonic for a nation depressed.
Their music was effervescent, magical and designed to lift the spirits of a people in the same way that Glenn Miller would galvanise Allied troops just a decade later, by giving them hope through his music.
There was enough realism in life without heaping it onto the stage, which is why Crazy for You and the likes of Me and My Girl and 42nd Street, each played their part in distributing feelgood factor more efficiently than a dustbowl crop sprayer.
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Ira and George Gershwin knew their craft and rapidly grew in stature, even though George was dead at 38, leaving his equally talented lyricist brother to reign supreme for nearly 50 years longer.
Crazy for You banker Bobby Child is the budding song and dance man sent to close down a failing theatre in Deadrock. However, he falls for Polly Baker, daughter of the building’s proprietor and, determined to win her heart, adopts the guise of a Hungarian impresario so he can stage a show, raise funds to prevent foreclosure and win his lady.
It is a fun, all singing dancing musical very much in the mould of Busby Berkeley, Astaire and Rogers. Tom Chambers, known to many Casualty and Strictly fans, is the foot-tapping Bobby who I warmed to as the show played, despite the fact that his microphone seemed a little under-powered in the first half.
Chambers is a talented tapper and plays the light-hearted leading man brilliantly – he would fit well into Billy Crocker in Anything Goes or Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl. However, I just wished he’d stopped looking at his feet so much, unlike the dynamic, unstoppable Charlotte Wakefield as Polly Baker. It took little to appreciate why she had been nominated for several key musical awards.
As Paul Director Paul Hart attests, this is a musical about realising the impossible dream, which is why it was so apt in 1930’s America, music with hope. It is twee but dynamic, flippant but intelligent and works because of its seamless approach, a product of two brothers who knew each other intimately.
So many musicals these days are powerful but emotionally deep. They may be entertaining but not always uplifting.
Crazy for You, like its title, is straight forward and does what it says on the tin……it’ll leave you skipping home like a teenager wanting more. Better than a triple shot of Botox!
Until Saturday 14th April 2018, Bradford Alhambra
Glorious Gershwin Will Drive You Crazy, 11th April 2018, 15:23 PM