GTA’s ‘Crazy for You’ still a charmer

Presented by the Gainesville Theatre Alliance, “Crazy for You,” a musical comedy set to the music of George and Ira Gershwin, delighted audiences Nov. 8 with high-energy performances and elaborate dance numbers.

Set in the 1930s, the musical first ran on Broadway in 1992. Inspiring laughter and applause, the production retains its charm.

(Courtesy GTA)

The play features Bobby Child, a hapless banker, who falls in love with a Western mail carrier named Polly Baker. As a banker sent to foreclose on her family’s failing theater in Nevada, Bobby does not meet Polly under the best circumstances. To help save the theater and spend time with Polly, Bobby disguises himself as the famed showman Bela Zangler. He recruits the Follies Girls from New York, along with local cowboys, to put on a show. Typically, the comedic bits stem from situational humor due to mistaken identity and the merging of Broadway and the American West.

In the early scenes, Chris Hallowes, who plays Bobby Child, seemed out of his element. Hallowes’ did well in reflecting the character’s shift in agency. Emily Whitley played an engaging Polly Baker. Possessing a broad vocal range, Whitley also maintained the cowgirl accent as she sang Gershwin standards.

Other standout performances include David Martin as Bela Zangler and Geanna Funes as Irene Roth. Funes’ abilities feature both comedic timing and impressive vocal skills. In the play, Martin’s entrance as Zangler complicated Child’s masquerade. The arrival leads to a well-received scene, in which he and Childs (disguised as Zangler) drunkenly mirror one another.

The cast balanced the fast-paced combination of acting, singing and dancing. During dance numbers, the actresses playing the Follies Girls proved skillfully united. Similarly, the cowboy ensemble crafted intricate performances. During staged antics for newcomers, the actors artfully achieved demanding stunts.

The live band and set design contributed to the nostalgia of the play. The only questionable design was the highly stylized finale, wherein a disco ball and descending cherubs detracted from the scene’s overall composition.

The show contains one overall issue, relating to the content. It features “wear them down” style romantic elements, one dated theme that withholds nostalgic charm. The physical nature of dance likely exaggerated these moments, presenting a distraction from the otherwise engaging material.

Free tickets are available to UNG students through the GTA box office. Shows take place in Gainesville at Brenau’s Hosch Theatre. “Crazy for You” will run through Nov. 18. The upcoming play “Avenue Q,” which the GTA website describes as “South Park meets Sesame Street,” will open in February 2018.

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