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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Crazy for You, Novello Theatre

Productions like Crazy for You confirm my love of musical theatre and make me remember why I dreamt for so long of making my career in this artform. The music, the dancing, the laughing, the lights... when a musical is done well, it is instantly uplifting, the smiles are contagious. This production of Crazy for You exemplifies this, it is perfection from start to finish.

Having moved from the unreliable stage at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, the Novello Theatre is a much more suitable home for this Gershwin classic. Every aspect is adjusted to provide a completely mesmerising performance. Peter McKintosh has done a magnificent job with the set and costume design. The outfits are to die for: glitzy and glamorous and super fun. The numerous costume changes make the show a real spectacle and the clever evolving set provides swift clean switches between the two settings: New York City and Deadrock, Nevada. Music is provided by a brilliant band, led by Stephen Ridley on the keyboard in the pit.

The choreography by movement genius Stephen Mears is jaw-droppingly good; it is impossible to see this show and not be amazed by the fancy footwork, stunning routines, magnetic ensemble work, and sharp comic innuendo. The talent and stamina the choreographer and performers must possess to do these steps justice is a marvel in itself, but to sing and act too is incredible. Not a toe out of place, not a tap out of time, the energy, pace and togetherness make the moves in Crazy for You quite frankly astonishing; the main group of dancing girls must be highly commended on their sublime performance.

It is an all star cast, carefully cast and well rehearsed - they run a tight ship. The leads, Sean Palmer as Bobby and Clare Foster as Polly are your typical triple threat performers: singing, dancing and acting, excelling at all three disciplines. Sean Palmer is charming and blessed with smouldering good looks, he oozes charisma and works beautifully with his onstage sweetheart, Polly. I was amazed throughout by his naturalness and ability to balance the serious and comic needs of the role, I particularly loved his drunken duet with Bela Zangler (David Burt) which set the audience off in hysterics! Clare Foster is fabulously feisty as Polly the country girl desperate to save her father’s theatre, she sings and dances with energy and character. I was delighted to hear her sing my favourite song, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’, a song I have been singing myself for many years, it was wonderful to see it performed in its intended context.

When friends say to me "what is the one show you recommend in London that has it all?" My current answer will be Crazy for You. This classic Gershwin musical has been off the London stage for far too long; this joyful production is unmissable. I believe there is a serious lack of vintage musicals on nowadays - this production illustrates what makes a classic. Crazy for You has an endless list of hit songs, a great narrative and the opportunity for lots of great dancing - in fact I think it has just become my new favourite musical.

Crazy for You continues until 28 July 2012, book here.

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