Garland — Fight Texas heat with a wildly silly romantic musical with glamorous chorus girls, rarin’-to-go cowboys and an evening full of great tap-dancing to the death-defying songs of Ira and George Gershwin. Who could ask for anything more than Crazy for You, the 1992 Tony Award-winning show premiered on Broadway in 1992, based on the Gershwins’ Girl Crazy, with a new book by Ken Ludwig.
Garland Summer Musicals, partnering with Eastfield College, stages a heroic production of the extravagant show with a cast of 35, directed by Buff Shurr, with Larry B. Miller conducting the 16-piece orchestra, plus ten more orchestra singers. They fill Garland’s Brownlee Auditorium at the Granville Arts Center with a huge, happy sound in the big production numbers when all the tap shoes are clicking, all the singers are at full throttle and the orchestra is right there under it all. Talk about good vibrations.
The hero, Bobby (a dapper Joseph Jones), hates the family banking business, and longs to be a Broadway star. His no-nonsense mother sends him to the terminally stagnant Nevada mining town of Deadrock to foreclose on a theater. Bobby falls helplessly in love with Polly (a feisty, warm-hearted Stephanie Riggs), the theater owner’s daughter. Polly, of course, can’t stand his city ways, so he disguises himself as the famed Broadway showman Zangler, and gets everybody together to put on a show to save the theater.
Crazy, right? But the chaos, confusion and wonderful songs and dances springing from the nutty plot all make you forget the demands of reason. Rhyme becomes its own reason in the wonderfully laconic cowboy song “I’m Bidin’ My Time,” where in the next line explains “‘cause that’s the kinda guy I’m.” Love it.
The score is tender and bouncy, romantic and sassy, by turns. These enthralling All-American musical numbers are here for our pure enjoyment. Songs include “I Got Rhythm,” “Shall We Dance,” “Embraceable You,” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” Jones does an elegant song and dance rendition of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and Riggs is quietly terrific in the lovely bluesy ballad “But Not for Me.”
One happy upshot of Bobby’s disguise happens when the real Bela Zangler (a tall, comically right-on Stan Graner) shows up in Deadrock, and the two men drink their troubles away in a hilarious number, “What Causes That,” in which the drunken men take each other for their mirror images.
Kelly Cox’s original set design is handsomely interpreted here in Donna Marquet’s sets, ranging from the scrim of Broadway behind the Zanger Theater to a richly detailed town of Deadrock, all wooden rails and swinging doors. The lovely, colorful scrim for the interior of Deadwood’s revived theater deserves special note.
The ardent enthusiasm and style of the youthful, high-kicking chorus girls and athletic, grinning cowboys are a delight all night. A look through the program quickly proves each of these young actors, most honing their skills in college, already have many roles to their credit. Their professionalism shows, particularly in the big numbers. Choreographers Jones and Julie Russell Stanley do a superb job filling the big proscenium stage. All the dances and tap moves demand precision and timing, and this bunch, well, they got rhythm.
Michael A. Robinson, Suzi Cranford and the Dallas Costume Shoppe outfit all the girls in glorious glitter and huge Ziegfeld-style sequined headgear for big numbers, and sexy ’30s-style shorts and tops for the jazzy rehearsal number. The cowboys get equal attention—and Jones always looks sharp in his elegant suits and dancing shoes.
When they sweep across the stage in the finale—Jones in a handsome white suit and Riggs a swirl of black ruffled organza—you just feel crazy happy that true love has once more conquered the world, at least for a magical musical moment on a summer night in Texas.