Gainesville Theatre Alliance Presents Classic Gershwin Musical “Crazy for You”
“Let me give you the low-down: I’m crazy for you!” So invites the opening of the hilarious and heart-warming musical comedy Crazy for You. This hilarious song-and-dance extravaganza takes over Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre stage Nov. 7-18. Crazy for You won the Tony Award for best musical when it debuted on Broadway.
Billed as “a new Gershwin musical,” the show pulls together timeless tunes written years earlier by brothers George and Ira Gershwin for other shows, but this time telling a new and rollicking American love story. When young New York banker Bobby Child is sent to the sleepy town of Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose a rundown theatre, his heart and life are turned upside down by a spitfire hometown girl. When Polly takes an instant dislike to the city slicker, Bobby vows to save the theatre and win Polly’s love. But the course of true love never did run smooth, especially with a musical razzmatazz, a hilarious case of mistaken identity and more dancing than the town’s ever seen!
The Gainesville Theatre Alliance is the nationally acclaimed collaboration between University of North Georgia, Brenau University, theatre Professionals and the northeast Georgia community.
Crazy for You has long held a place in the GTA community. When the musical premiered on Broadway in 1992, it was the leading role of Polly Baker that earned Gainesville resident Jodi Benson her first Tony nomination. Benson even came to speak about the show’s place in her life to the cast of the show and the students of GTA.
GTA’s Artistic Director Jim Hammond saw the musical that same year and subsequently brought to the GTA Mainstage prior in 2000. “For me the most exciting part of it all, then as now, is watching our students fall in love with the music of their grandparents,” said Hammond.
Some tried and true classic GTA collaborators are returning as well to make their mark: Barbara Hartwig returns as both director and choreographer. Hartwig also got the chance to see the original Broadway production, choreographed by her ultimate inspiration, Susan Stroman. “This show changed my life. Seeing Stroman’s inventive and unique choreography really made me want to be a choreographer,” Hartwig said.
Audiences can expect a great deal of the original choreography as well, as Hartwig previously worked on the musical twice before: “There is a ton of dancing in this show. My binder with the choreography recorded is over twice the size of my script!” Dancing in this show means everything from tapping to working with rhythmic props. When the ensemble isn’t dancing or singing, they’re putting on specific physical comedy, even a massive old western style bar brawl.
For musical director Rick Gomez, the classic music of the show really brings home how theatre can bring together a community: “These songs really are full of heart that gets stuck in your head. When they start playing, it’s like you’re falling in love all over again.”
Though the show’s book by Ken Ludwig was written in the 90s, the timeless songs effortlessly weave the characters in and out of hilarious and heartwarming scenarios.
If the musical says that romance and community can come from different walks of life, it falls to costume designer Pamela Workman and scenic designer Stuart Beaman to give us those two different worlds of 1930s America.
“New York will be mostly sleek upper middle class fashion. Follie Girl costumes with tons of glitz and glamour. In Nevada, the clothing becomes more rugged and low class. If I do my job correctly, the two should not be similar,” said Workman.
Most important to all involved is the wild journey on which the characters’ hearts are set: “I hope that the audience feels the fun of the story, that they leave with ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’ stuck in their heads. I hope they realize chasing dreams and falling in love under ridiculous conditions is an everyday occurrence,” said Workman.
For all its brand new cast and production team, the musical still brings with it that touch of classic storytelling. Crazy for You may be a story of romance and of America, but also of a community learning to live more courageously through hard work, a little optimism, and the infectious fun of a few catchy rhythms.
The show runs at 7:30 pm Nov. 7-11 and 14-18 and at 2:30 pm Nov, 12 and Nov. 18. Tickets ticket prices for the production are $28-30 for adults, $26-28 seniors (65 and up), and $18-20 for students, depending on seat location. Patrons can select and purchase seats on the website, www.gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org, or by phone 678-717-3624, Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. The Hosch Theatre is located at 429 Academy Street, Gainesville 30501.