Crazy for You is a romantic love musical with a book by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin that closes out an incredibly strong season for Bay City Players, with performances running April 22-24 and April 29-May 1st. Billed as ‘The New Gershwin Musical Comedy’, it is largely based on the songwriting team’s 1930 musical Girl Crazy, but incorporates classic Gershwin songs from several other productions as well, and won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Directed by Mike Wisniewski, with musical direction by Catherine McMichael, vocal direction by Jayme Williams, and choreography by Holly Haga Bills, the biggest challenge for Wisniewski involves pulling all the elements together in this ambitious production, which features 25 cast members and an 18-piece orchestra.
“You really can’t go wrong with this wonderful play,” reflects Wisnkiewski, “which opens with the main character, Bobby Child (performed by John Britt) who aspires to be onstage performing in the Zangler Follies. Bobby has two very strong women in his life – his mother (performed by Karen Keeley) who has no plan for him to be on a performing stage; and his fiancé Irene Roth (performed by Sandra Graves) who holds the deed to the Zangler Follies, which has a theatre located in Deadrock, Nevada. The theatre has fallen behind in payments, so Bobby is sent to Deadrock to foreclose; and right away in the first scene there is a great number, I Can’t Be Bothered Now, where Bobby, his mother and Irene go into their car, Bobby comes out of the car, and starts dancing. But then as the number progresses, the Follies girls also start coming out of the car, because this is all happening in his mind, and it evolves into a big tap number. So this is only one example of the intricate staging involved with this production.”
“In the second scene we see contrasts between the world Bobby is accustomed to, and the world he is dealing with in Deadrock,” continues Mike. “The Gaiety Theatre has become the Post Office for Bedrock, but in its heyday it was a thriving mining town and very prosperous, only once the mining industry fell off now you have a bunch of cowboys hanging around that don’t do much of anything. Bobby is introduced to Polly Baker (performed by Meagan Eager) and when Bobby sees her, he instantly falls in love.”
“The show really jumps from the saloon to the streets of Deadrock to the stage of the Gaiety Theatre; and when Bobby first talks to Polly, she’s received a foreclosure letter from the bank and when she finds out that Bobby is the person sent to close the theatre, she smacks him across the face. At which point Bobby decides to become Mr. Zangler in disguise and develops this plan to raise money and save the theatre,” continues Mike. “All throughout the play you have these incredible songs and production numbers, including a hot jazzy version of I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, and there’s a lot of action throughout the production. The last scene involves a big production number to I’ve Got Rhythm, and it truly is an ambitious musical with a lot of challenging song & dance numbers.”
“This is really a true musical comedy and very funny and to my mind, truly did take American musical theatre to a new level,” continues Mike. “There’s a lot of dancing and singing and a large amount of staging, but the biggest challenge is really with the dancing, as this is a heavy song & dance show, which is where the weight of the production is really put.”
“You’ve got at least 14 production numbers in the show with a lot of tap dancing, so for the choreographer, it’s a daunting task teaching a lot of non-tappers or people that haven’t tap-danced in awhile, to learn these big numbers. I’m truly blessed to have three women like Katherine, Holly and Jayme involved, because these songs aren’t that easy and there’s a lot of harmony in these musical numbers.”
“Gershwin builds a big beautiful sound into his songs, with big crescendos at the end, and its tough music,” notes Mike. “My job is to weave all these elements together, because you might have one or two pages of dialogue and then a huge musical number with an entire scenery change; then one or two more pages of dialogue, and then another musical number. One musical number goes right into the next scene, so the trick is getting those scene changes down to seconds, so the whole production is seamless. The first act has 11 scenes, but they do move quickly and tend to tumble into one another.”
“Everybody involved has a true passion for this production,” concludes Mike, “and looking back I believe this is the biggest dance show that Bay City Players has done since we did Cats back in 2007. It’s an exciting musical and we’ve been diligently doing vocal and dance rehearsals and have the blocking completed, so now it’s a matter of polishing everything and laying all the layers together.”
“Joy Butler is handling the costuming and Crazy For You will be a nice cap to the season for us here at Players. We have six performances scheduled and already we’re almost 76% sold, so we are looking at a sellout with the possibility of adding another performance, which we’ve had to do a couple times this season.”
“Even the smallest of musicals are not easy, so people should prepare for a truly memorable evening of top-notch theatrical entertainment.”
Bay City Players production of ‘Crazy for You’ runs from April 22-24 and April 29 – May 1st. Performance times are Friday & Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets can be ordered online at baycityplayers.com or by phoning 989-893-5555.
16th November, 2023