“Crazy For You” opened Tuesday at Highfield Theatre as the College Light Opera Company’s second production. The hall was packed, the orchestra was ready and the cast did not disappoint.
The stage direction and choreography are by Mo Campbell, who has done choreography for CLOC in recent years; Beth Burrier is both music director and associate artistic director. They deserve a lot of credit.
The sets were simple, with mobile staging that could be reconfigured for the change of scenes. Oscar Escobedo did a fine job of designing.
The costumes by Chloe Moore were spot-on for the most part; the only one I didn’t like was the initial cowgirl costume worn by Eleni Hanson, who plays romantic lead Polly Baker. I didn’t think it was flattering to Ms. Hanson and more appropriate for Annie Oakley.
The orchestra, which has overpowered the singers in other productions in other seasons, was wonderful. The musicians were strong yet also more muted when the occasion demanded. They were led by Ms. Burrier.
The show is packed with songs by Ira and George Gershwin and was first produced under the name “The New Gershwin Musical Comedy.” It has been revised and some songs have been added or taken out over the years. It’s more of a revue than a play; the book is by Ken Ludwig, and tells the story of Bobby Child, a rich banker who wants to be a Broadway star. Bobby is played by Jordan Harris. Bobby is sent to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a theater owned by Everett Baker, Polly’s father, played by Michel Cagnetta.
Jordan Harris has a great voice and projected well. He is also a talented dancer, both in tap and a more conventional style. He even got to showcase his comic skills when he pretends to be Bela Zengler, a Broadway impresario, who is portrayed by Andrey Vdovenko. In one of the more silly sketches, the two do a mirror-image bit and sing “What Causes That?” in the second half of the show. It was a harmonious duet.
Bobby has a fiancee, Irene Roth, who is played by Paula Berry. Her romantic foil was Lank Hawkins, the owner of the saloon in Deadrock. Lank wants to marry Polly and also wants to buy the theater/post office owned by Polly’s father.
I must say here that the leads really did the most in this production. There was a slight subplot, but really the action and solos were theirs. I imagine it was a daunting task. I applaud both of them.
Eleni Hanson as Polly shows off her dancing and singing skills, which are strong. I especially loved her solo, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” in the second half. Her solo of “Someone To Watch Over Me” in the first half was not as effective as it could have been. The pacing of the orchestra and her singing were not in sync at times. It was a little distracting.
Another issue I had was with the lighting, especially the spotlights when the leads sang. Either the lighting tech was off or the leads didn’t hit the right mark. This did not happen throughout the whole show; it would make the show stronger if these small things were fixed.
These issues, however, did not detract from the impact of the show. The ensemble numbers were amazing, especially “Biding My Time,” “Slap That Bass,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” The cast members really fill the stage and their dancing and singing make you want to tap your toes. I loved their doing the shimmy. The energy in the theater was palpable at those times. Their timing and synchronized routines were great; there was even a nod of a sort to Busby Berkeley, with the use of fans. Mo Campbell had help from Manley Gavich with the choreography. Kudos for them.
Other performers who stood out were a comic pair: the Fodors, traveling through Nevada to research their travel book, and played by Will Upham and Falmouth’s own Jessica Edgar. Also adding to the show was Andrey Vdovenko as Bela Zanger, who pursues Tess, played Alaina Mueller, who also gives life to her role. One of the cowboys manages to contort his body to great effect, too.
I recommend the show; it is a worthwhile evening of theater.
The show continues through Saturday with evening shows at 8 PM and a 2 PM matinee tomorrow.
Tickets are $35, plus a fee. Either visit the CLOC box office at 58 Highfield Drive or call 508-548-0668 or go to www.CollegeLightOperaCompany.com. Box office hours are 10 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Saturday.