Cape crowd "Crazy" for Gershwin at the Playhouse in Dennis


   The cast of "Crazy for You" with Matt Loehr as Bobby and Vanessa Sonon as Polly at center. Photo credit: Kathleen A. Fahle.

By Maggie Kulbokas

One word for the opening nightperformance of "Crazy for You" at the Cape Playhouse Mondaynight: WOW. The Playhouse keeps the musicalmomentum of "Footloose" going and then some with the Gershwin hit "Crazy for You".

"Crazy for You" was written in the early 1990s (book by KenLudwig with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin) and based on the 1930 Gershwin musical "GirlCrazy".  In addition to songs from "Girl Crazy", "Crazy for You" includes songs from several other productions including "Shall We Dance" and "A Damsel in Distress".  Unsurprisingly, the show took the Tony for Best Musical in 1992. Dubbed "The New GershwinMusical", it has all the elements of the perfectstage show: timeless toe-tapping tunes, incredible dance numbers and quick and witty dialogue. 

These elements were expertly presentedby an amazingly talented cast of actor/dancer/singers.  From the first act to the last, theCape Playhouse rumbled with high energy and magical music.

"Crazy for You" is pureAmericana--Gershwin standards belted out by cowboys, dancing girls, a sassy heroine named Polly and adaydreaming leading man named Bobby. It's unrequited love, overcoming obstacles and doing theright thing set in time to some delightful ditties.

Matt Loehr as Bobby and Vanessa Sonon as Polly. Photo credit: Kathleen A. Fahle.

The show opens in New York City in the1920s. Bobby Child works at the family-owned bank for his overbearing mother and has beenskirting a wedding date with his even more overbearing fiancee.  Bobby is put-upon, put down and all hewants to do is dance. When an audition for the famous Bela Zangler, producer of the famedZangler Follies, doesn't go as well as he would like, Bobby takes refuge in a decidedly unshowbizassignment--serve foreclosure papers on a property in Deadrock, Nevada.

Bobby arrives in Deadrock to find atumbleweed town filled with bored cowboys, a saloon and a post office. It doesn't take long forBobby to fall head over tap shoes in love with Polly, the town's spitfire and owner of the GaityTheater--now the town post office. It's the Gaiety Theater that the bank is foreclosing on,and instead of delivering the death blow, Bobby decides to find a way to help Polly save the show.

What follows is act after act--both funand funny--based on one of the cornerstones of American comedy--mistaken identity.

The entire cast is a treat towatch--truly talented guys and dolls with impressive experience on, off and near Broadway. Matt Loehr andVanessa Sonon were Bobby Child and Polly Baker--roles they recently played at the Maltz JupiterTheater in Florida. And their level of comfort with the characters showed. Both are wonderfulsingers and marvelous tap dancers.

The rest of the cast including LaurenKadel as Tess, Michael Brian Dunn as Bela Zangler, Michael Halling as Lank and David Titus asPolly's addle-brained dad, all possess true comedic timing and a gift for physical comedy.

And what can you say about Gershwin?It's Gershwin, and the orchestra had the audience wiggling in their seats with standards including "EmbraceableYou", "I Got Rhythm" and "Nice Work if You CanGet it".

Director Mark Martino and ChoreographerShea Sullivan managed to make a huge production filled with non-stop movement fit on thehistoric playhouse stage. And the scenic design by Dan Kuchar was fun and elaborate--almost like thebackdrop in a Looney Toons cartoon. The set pieces swirled and unfolded becoming movingparts of the cast.

"Footloose" was fun, but"Crazy About You" is pure joy.

"Crazy for You" runs now through August 20, Monday through Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Wednesday and the second Thursday at 2pm and the first Saturday at 4pm.  The Cape Playhouse is at 820 Route 6A in Dennis Village. Tickets and ticket subscriptions are available at the box office at 508-385-3911. Coming up next: "Unnecessary Farce".

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