For me any show that starts with the Clarinet solo from Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ is a winner.
Coming from high above the main stage set this mournful yet uplifting melody shows us straight away the quality of the performance we are about to enjoy. Sixteen of the eighteen talented performers who make this show so enjoyable are also responsible for the music throughout – there is no offstage orchestra. The actors incorporate their musical roles with grace and precision in this happy and upbeat show.
The plot is fairly lightweight, but hooks our emotions into the main protagonists. Boy meets girl with a few ups and downs along the way! Bobby Child (Tom Chambers) is the son of a banking family, but just wants to dance his way onto the Broadway stage. He struggles to get an audition with impresario Bela Zangler (Neil Ditt), but cannot break through. He is also betrothed to his fiancée Irene Roth, whether he likes it or not. He is dispatched to Deadlock, Nevada, to foreclose on an old theatre in a failed mining town. There he falls for the headstrong daughter of the theatre owner, Polly Baker (Charlotte Wakefield) and determines to save the theatre from closure, sale to the neighbouring saloon owner Lank Hawkins (Christopher Fry) and repossession by his own family bank. With Polly, he tries to put on a show to save their fortunes.
There are several twists and turns, but will love prevail and the show go on? You will have to go and see to find out, but if you do you will be richly rewarded with some well-sung Gershwin songs including “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “Embraceable You”, “I Got Rhythm” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”. Charlotte is a delightful Polly, with a strong singing voice perfectly suited to these familiar songs, while Tom Chambers both swoons with the songs and dazzles with his impressive dance skills and athletic use of the stage, with a few heartstopping moments. Together, they dance and sing with superb timing and stage presence.
The show was advertised as featuring the talents of Caroline Flack, but sadly she had to pull out on medical advice with a back problem, so her role of Irene Roth was performed rather well by cast member Hollie Cassar. The cast coped well with the slight reconfiguring of complex dance routines required by being one member down.
All in all this musical follows a formula that brings many delightfully familiar tunes to life in a show that started life 80 years ago as Girl Crazy and has seen many revivals and stagings ever since. You may struggle to get a seat for this Norwich leg of their tour, but make sure you do!
© Julian Swainson 2017
Crazy For You, Tuesday 31 October-Saturday 4 November at 7.30pm, and Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets £8-£42.50. Discounts for Friends, Over-60s, Under-18s and Groups.