Paraphrasing Ira Gershwin's lyrics, let me give you the low down, Utah audiences are going crazy for "Crazy for You" - and the Hale Center Theater Orem's show is making hearts go bango-bingo.
The 1992 Tony-winning Best Musical, with a Ken Ludwig-manufactured script, premiered on the expansive Shubert Theatre stage with a 30-strong cast. With Dave Tinney at the helm, "Crazy for You" quite gloriously translates to the Hale's 320-square-foot stage with a cast of 17. The Wunderkind director-choreographer and his top-drawer cast create a crowd-pleasing, exuberant all-singing, all-tapping spectacle.
The shamelessly slight story is embraced by each cast member. Leading the cast is a rubber-legged David Smith as Bobby Smith, a New York City banker who for some inexplicable reason is in love with the theater. Smith is a gleeful showman: "My bonds and shares/May fall downstairs/Who cares?/I'm dancing!" could have been written for him. He's a goofball one moment and a smoothie the next.
The show's true delight is Debra Weed as Polly Baker, the town postmistress. This tumbleweed heroine packs a revolver loaded with charm, gusto and, yes, spunk. She sings beautifully, hitting all the high notes with clarity, smoothly sliding into her heartfelt songs as an extension of her character.
When Bobby is dispatched by his domineering mother to foreclose on a deserted Nevada town's long-defunct theater, he finds a latently talented group of chorus-boy cowpokes. With his impressive lasso rope trick, Chase Ramsey is a standout at Moose.
With a phone call, the chorines from the New York show Bobby was never in quickly volunteer to travel cross country to put on a show, arriving from inside a trunk. As their feisty leader Tess, Emily Bell is great, but Misha Jenkins uses all her gangly, adorkable charm to make Patsy the second ensemble standout.
The town's likeable bad guy, enjoyably played by Ben Henderson, melts like butter at first sight of Bobby's former flame (Nicole Riding, shining in the small part). Ditto Polly's Pa (Reese Purser) as soon as Bobby's mumsy (Nancy Candrian) arrives to continue finger-wagging her wayward son.
Sure, the never-ending stream of Gershwin classics is shoehorned into the threadbare storyline that is crammed full of implausibilities and showbiz schtick. But, hey: These showtunes were penned by George and Ira! Add inspired singing and inventive choreography and, while sighing sigh after sigh, who could ask for anything more?
Photo credit: Hale Center Theater Orem/CanIGetACopy