Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

Lighthearted Nostalgia: “Crazy for You” taps into Candlelight Pavilion

The grander than grand finale of "Crazy for You" [photo: Kirklyn Robinson]

The grander than grand finale of “Crazy for You” [photo: Kirklyn Robinson]

The American fascination with the original, silly American musical is never-ending. Sometimes it results in revivals of some of the early greats: “42nd Street” or “Anything Goes” among them. Sometimes it leads to satire, as newer shows like “The Drowsy Chaperone” underscore our nation’s passion for their often ridiculous characters and sometimes illogical story lines. And then there is “Crazy for You,” which found the balance by giving a new, though reminiscent plot line and then peppering the piece with the best of George and Ira Gershwin’s songs.

Now at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater, “Crazy for You,” the lighthearted, comic little musical, makes a surprisingly satisfying splash on their tiny stage. There’s lots of tap dancing, plenty of tuneful moments (as one would expect from the Gershwins), many good hearted musical stereotypes, and some genuine laughs. It’s a fine, if not particularly mentally taxing way to spend an evening.

The story is basic, pre-war Broadway. Bobby Child loves to dance, but his mother wants him to settle into business and marry the wealthy and suitable Irene. After he auditions rather disastrously for Bela Zangler of the Zangler Follies, he falls in line with his mother’s dreams and heads out to serve foreclosure papers on a theater in an obscure desert town in Arizona. There he meets up with every possible western type, and a girl named Polly, and having taken on the guise of Zangler, in the best tradition of such pieces decides to gather folk and put on a show.

Of course, traditional tap numbers are essential

Of course, traditional tap numbers are essential

Chris Duir makes a fine Bobby, dancing well, singing with gusto, and also able to handle the required clowning with style. Most particularly, the mirror gag he performs with Bryan Overmyer’s Zangler takes real skill on both their parts, and earns its genuine laughs. Susanna Vaughan makes a cheery, corn fed Polly, and though the chemistry between her and Duir is not particularly strong, they charge their way through the musical with an individual vitality which makes up for it.

Among the sizable cast, Overmyer and Jenny Moon Shaw also have some fun moments as the traditional comic duo, whose brief appearance in the second act adds a layer to the comedic tone. Shaw also makes a most severe mother for the energetic Bobby, and Angela Calderon ends up almost a non sequitur as the suddenly sultry Irene. David M. Laffey sticks out even over the other silly western “types” as the large and somewhat dim Moose. Yet, one could go on and on, as the cast displays both singing and dancing talent in significant abundance.

Director Neil Dale keeps the pace flowing, while Dustin Ceithamer’s recreation of Susan Stroman’s choreography is adapted well to the much smaller space. So is the set (uncredited) which has been shrunken to fit the space without losing any of its essential elements. A bravo also goes to Mary Warde for wigs which – and you’d be surprised how unusual this is – do not look so cheap/fake as to distract from the show.

Again, “Crazy for You,” despite its comparative youth, has more in common with the popular musicals of the 30s than with anything recent. Thus it is lighthearted, airy, full of tap dancing feats and silly comedy. For a moment when all you want is entertainment, it should be very appealing. And, at Candlelight Pavilion, it comes with a lovely dinner as well.

What: “Crazy for You” When: Through April 27, doors open for dinner at 6 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays, and for brunch at 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays Where: Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater, 455 W. Foothill Blvd in Claremont How Much: $53-$68 general, $25 for children 12 and under, meal inclusive Info: (909) 626-1524 ext. 1 or http://www.candlelightpavilion.com

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