Saturday, August 6, 2016

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey Reagle’s Got Rhythm to Spare

CRAZY FOR YOU (@ Reagle Music Theatre through August 14th) is one of those joyous musicals which pleases from every angle. Ken Ludwig’s valentine to the lavish musicals of the ’30s marries George and Ira Gershwin’s heavenly songs to a wacky “hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show” plot featuring laconic cowboys and high stepping showgirls. If you love those old Gershwin tunes, you’re happy. If you love tap, you’re in for a treat and if you love to laugh, there are enough chuckles to keep you in stitches all the way through. Broadway was so thrilled with Ludwig’s clever tribute to Song and Dance that CRAZY FOR YOU won the 1992 Tony for best new musical.

Broadway power duo Beverly and Kirby Ward, who have appeared many times at Reagle, are back in the roles they performed to rave reviews in the London production and the national tour, with Kirby directing this one. The Wards make it look easy and Eileen Grace’s re-staging of Susan Stroman’s wildly extravagant, original choreography makes the Reagle production pop with energy. Of course, it’s the dancers, many from Boston Conservatory, who give their all to the production. Witness the “I Got Rhythm” showstopper at the close of Act I. If you’ve never seen the show, the number is a phenomenon, with dancers hitting and tapping on anything and everything made of metal – and that’s only the half of it!

Beverly Ward lights up the stage as the gal with the broken down theater that needs saving. She gives a tour de force as the object of affection of both Kirby as the banker sent to foreclose and Leon Axt as the barkeep who wants to expand his saloon. What she doesn’t know is that the banker would rather sing and dance… which leads to a little lie that gets bigger and bigger until the banker has passed himself off as the famous Broadway producer of the Follies, no less.

You know the real producer is going to show up, right? Matthew Zahnzinger gives an inspired comic performance as the man mightily surprised to find he has a doppelganger, not to mention delighted to find himself kissed by mistake, while pursuing yet another chorine, played by Rachel Abbate. Aimee Doherty gets laughs as the femme fatale who tames the gun toting saloon owner with the hilarious “Naughty Baby” shtick.

CRAZY FOR YOU is packed with gorgeous Gershwin tunes (niftily music directed by Dan Rodriguez), especially Beverly Ward’s sweetly melancholy “Someone to Watch Over Me” and the romantic duo’s lovely, ethereal “Embraceable You.” It’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” as Ira Gershwin quipped – and boy, do they ever.