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Crazy for You/Chichester Festival Theatre

This exuberant production maintains the high levels of Chichester Festival Theatre which makes an annual trip to their musical an enjoyable event.

Crazy for You has an unusual genesis as the musical – whilst reliant on George and Ira Gershwin’s songbook – was not written by them but by Ken Ludwig and first performed after their death.

The story is a simple one.

Bobby Child (Charlie Stemp) a new Yorker falls in love with Polly Baker (Carly Anderson) who owns a theatre in Nevada which has defaulted in its bank payments and likely to be re-possessed.

Bobby impersonates the impresario Bella Xangler (Tom Edden) to impress Polly.

Their production fails but the real Bella Zangler puts on a fresh one.

The plot is aided by some of the best compositions of the Gershwins notably I Got Rhythm, Embraceable You and They Can’t Take That Away From You.   

There are those who turn their nose up at musicals as some form of lesser opera.

In fact to sing, dance and act requires considerable talent and they are physically demanding.

The Gershwin Songbook has passed into legend and rock star Rod Stewart has successfully revived it.

Besides, many as well known opera has been spoiled for me by poor acting.

Criticisms are minor.

There is perhaps too much respect for diversity in the casting and – at 2 hours 45 minutes – it’s too long.

The boisterous rendering of I Got Rhythm closes the First Act but the Second Act takes time to find its tempo – there is an overlong scene between Bobby Child and the real Bella Zangler.

Nonetheless it’s an enjoyable musical which, like South Pacific,I can see successfully transferring to the West End.

Finally a word of praise for the Chichester Festival Theatre.

Sleepy senior Chichester is an unlikely place to find a successful theatre but yesterday the matinee of Crazy for You  was sold out.

The theatre rolls out, with the adjoining Minerva, a programme of new plays, classics and musicals – not just the odd revival of a play featuring a household name and/or some actor well-known from a soap as the commercial theatres do less successfully.

The programme had an interesting 4 page article on the Gershwins by theatre critic and writer David Benedict.

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About Tim Holford-Smith

Despite running his architectural practice full-time, Tim is a frequent theatre-goer and occasional am-dram producer. More Posts