Review - Crazy For You - Chichester Festival Theatre


Crazy For You

It’s been a crazy few days reviewing new productions (3 shows in 4 evenings… nice work if you can get it!) driving all-round the UK for Box Office Radio and it was with a great deal of excitement that I approached the Chichester Festival Theatre for the first time.  I know it as the place many West End shows start out before they transfer and yet I’d never made the long journey (for me) down there.  I’m so glad I did… we arrived to picnicking theatre goers being serenaded by a live jazz band and the atmosphere was already buzzing. 

I was there to review the six-week revival of Crazy For You, an old school traditional musical created by Ken Ludwig (book) relatively recently (1992) and set to the music of the Gershwin brothers.  I’d last seen it in 1993 in the West End but have chatted about it since with a friend who performed in it on tour.  I had also met its star (Charlie Stemp) a few times so I was already quite invested in it and was really hoping Susan Stroman’s new production was going to live up to expectations.  It did!

The show opened with the usual ‘Busby Berkeley’ glamour at the closing of a Bela Zangler show and our hero Bobby Child (Stemp), a rich young banker under his mother’s thumb was desperately trying to impress Zangler (Tom Edden) to get a part in his next show.  Although he impressed us, the audience, he failed to impress Zangler and so he followed his mother’s instruction and travelled to Dead Rock, Nevada to foreclose on a theatre.  Needless to say, he fell in love with the only female in town, Polly (Carly Anderson) so impersonated Zangler in a bid to put on a show and to persuade her to fall in love with him, Bobby.  It all fell apart when Polly fell for Bobby as Zangler rather than as Bobby but, this being old school musical comedy *spoiler alert* it all came good in the end.

However, the plot isn’t why one would book to see this show.  It is the feel-good musical that, well, makes us feel good.  It had everything!  Faultless dancing, including tap dancing by one member of the ensemble on ballet points, excellent comedy timing by all but particularly by Stemp in the mirror sequence with Zangler, wonderful and imaginative choreography, fabulous costumes, laugh out loud moments with a simple but effective set.

Anderson was sublime in movement, voice and extremely watchable.  Merryl Ansah as Irene was delightful as the bitchy vamp and Marc Akinfolarin fabulous as Moose.  I almost felt as if I could smell him from my place in the auditorium! 

The entire ensemble were wonderful to watch and it was no great surprise that they received their first ovation from several members of the audience at the end of Act 1. 

The lady seated behind me was already on her 3rd visit and the show’s only been open just over a week.  It is definitely the sort of production one wants to watch again and again and again.  Who could ask for anything more?  Well not me!

This production was reviewed on the 30th July 2022.  The show runs at the Chichester Festival Theatre until the 4th September 2022.  Tickets available here: https://www.cft.org.uk/whats-on/event/crazy-for-you

***** stars

Emily Culverhouse

Catch Emily every Saturday at 4pm for 'Anything Can Happen' here on Box Office Radio

Photo credit: Tristram Kenton