If musical theatre is not your thing, then this big, in-your-face, unashamedly ridiculous show is not the one to change to your mind, but if you like a bit of razzle dazzle then this delivers on all fronts. From the 40-watt smiles on the chorus girls to the big band in the pit, this is an all-singing, all-dancing, jazz-hands-waving extravaganza designed to put a smile on your face and shimmy in your hips.
Yes, the plot is threadbare to the point of non-existence. Yes, the set is a little rickety (although I do like a bit of revolve). Yes, the amplification isn’t spot-on, and some of the lyrics get a little garbled. But it’s got more sequins and ruffles than you can shake a stick at, witty choreography and stonking tunes. And if that’s not enough, there are tap-dancing cowboys.
Timothy Sheader’s production has made the sensible decision to embrace the ridiculous plot, to go all out with the totally over-the-top multiple love-at-first-sight moments, and to give in to the lush, sweeping tunes that Gershwin does so well, well-orchestrated here by Chris Egan. The band play a blinder, giving the songs wit and charm, under the buoyant direction of Gareth Valentine. Neither of the leads has the strongest voice, but they are both cracking dancers. There is no threat (even from the gun-totin’ hard man who runs the saloon) and no real peril, which makes it hard to care about the characters. But then they come hoofing out, all tits and teeth, and launch into another dazzling routine, and you stop caring. Surrender to an evening of pure, unadulterated escapism; enjoy the pantomime spirt and the terrible jokes; relax and let yourself be carried away to the tune of ‘I Got Rhythm’ or ‘Embraceable You’.
The story is woefully thin; boy meets girl, girl has to save rural theatre, boy tap-dances his way to happy-ever-after. And there are some cowboys. Er, what? Don’t pay too much attention to the plot – you know it will all end well – and let yourself get swept up in this feel-good, shamelessly schmaltzy evening’s entertainment. If you don’t leave with a smile on your face, I will eat my tap shoes. And my stetson.
Crazy For You is playing at the Novello Theatre and is booking until July 2012. For more information and to book tickets, see the Official Crazy For You website.