Head over heels
By Kerianne M. Tupac
The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance Department of Musical Theatre closes out the 2012-2013 season with a well-loved musical classic, Crazy for You®, The New Gershwin® Musical. With a book by Ken Ludwig and featuring the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin, Crazy for You® plays April 18 at 7:30PM, April 19 & 20 at 8PM and April 21 at 2PM at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor.
Linda Goodrich directs the production with music direction by Catherine Walker Adams. Goodrich and Adams collaborated last November on Bat Boy: The Musical.
In 1990, producer Roger Horchow, a life-long fan of Gershwin music, acquired the rights to a number of their works and obtained permission from the Gershwin Estate to recreate the 1930s musical Girl Crazy. Horchow immediately contacted playright Ken Ludwig, who had recently won a Tony Award for his work Lend me a Tenor. Ludwig initially turned Horchow down, having never written a musical before, but Horchow eventually convinced him to take on the project.
Ludwig adapted the classic tale of boy gets girl after many obstacles and blended it with 19 of George and Ira Gershwin’s most beloved songs including “Embraceable You” to “I Got Rhythm” and “They Can’t Take that Away from Me.” Crazy for You® premiered on Broadway on February 19, 1992, at the Shubert Theatre in New York City. After a slew of British musical invasions, the show was hailed as one of the great American musicals destined to regain the American dominance of the field. The show ran for 1,622 performances and won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical.
The musical follows Bobby Child, an aspiring dancer, as he works to escape the corporate-bank life his mother and fiancée insist upon. To get him away from the stage, his mother sends him to the small town of Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on the local theatre. Upon reaching Deadrock, Bobby’s life is turned upside down by the beautiful and stubborn Polly Baker, the daughter of the theatre owner.
Inspired by his love for the stage, and for Polly, Bobby hatches a plan to save the theatre. But when his life in the city collides with the persona he has created in Deadrock, mistaken identities and miscommunications threaten to undo everything Bobby has worked towards in revitalizing the cowboy town he has come to love.
“A year ago when this was chosen, I wasn’t planning to work on the show,” states director Goodrich. “Now I am so thankful and grateful that I am directing – I have absolutely fallen in love with it. The show really tells a beautiful cohesive story from all the musicals that the songs were was pulled from. At the heart of all of the Gershwin’s musicals from the depression era is the single question of ‘shall we dance or keep on moping?’
I think there is a cynicism that has been in vogue, ushered in from the 1980s, that we all fall into daily. So that question of whether we will embrace our lives or just complain and mope has become a profound question today. And as a community we learn to come together and embrace our lives. I am thankful for Crazy for You for reminding me of that.”
Shari Jordan, a dance captain in the original Broadway production, recreates the original Tony Award-winning Broadway choreography by Susan Stroman. Additional choreography is by Dept. of Musical Theatre Assistant Professor Ron De Jesús. The design team includes scenic designer Bruce Brockman (The Full Monty), costume designer George Bacon (42nd Street), lighting designer Andrew Lott (Sunday in the Park with George), wig & makeup designer Dawn Rivard (August: Osage County), and U-M SMTD alumnus Michael Eisenberg as sound designer.
Following the Friday performance on April 19 will be a post-performance discussion moderated by Goodrich and featuring members of the cast. Curtain Call Fridays offer an opportunity for audience members to talk with artists about each production. Sponsored by Friends of Theatre & Drama, the discussion is free and open to all.
Ticket prices for Crazy for You® are $26 and $20 with student tickets only $10 with ID. Limited seats remain for all performances. Tickets are available in person at the League Ticket Office, located within the Michigan League. The Ticket Office is open 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday, and 10am – 1pm on Saturday. Order by phone at (734) 764-2538.
Tickets may also be ordered online at tickets.music.umich.edu. The Power Center, located at 121 N. Fletcher Street, is accessible to patrons in wheelchairs and features an infrared assisted listening system.