AISLE SAY San Francisco


Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Book by Ken Ludwig
Directed by Brooke Knight
Presented by Broadway By the Bay
San Mateo Performing Arts Center
600 N. Delaware St., San Mateo / (650) 579-5565

Reviewed by Judy Richter

With its memorable tunes, opportunities for tap-dancing extravaganzas and an amusing boy meets girl, etc., plot, "Crazy for You" is hard to resist. Songs by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother, Ira Gershwin, include such hummers as "Bidin' My Time," "Someone To Watch Over Me," "Embraceable You," "I Got Rhythm" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It." Broadway By the Bay's production, directed by artistic director Brooke Knight, makes a solid case for the show.

The Gershwins never wrote a musical called "Crazy for You," but they did create "Girl Crazy," a 1930 Broadway show with many of those tunes. Ken Ludwig subsequently updated the book and made other adaptations that resulted in "Crazy for You," Tony Award winner for best musical in 1992.

The updated plot concerns a young New Yorker, Bobby Child (Steve Perez), who's much more interested in becoming a dancer for impresario Bela Zangler (Steve Anthony) than tending to his family's banking business. In a last chance of sorts, his mother, Lottie (Lois Lazich), sends him to Deadrock, Nev., to foreclose on an old theater. Deadrock is just about as awful as it sounds, but when Bobby staggers into town, he meets Polly Baker (Melissa WolfKlain), who owns the theater with her aging father, Everett (John Blatt). Bobby is immediately smitten with her, but she wants nothing to do with him. Therefore, he disguises himself as Bela and gets the whole town involved in producing a show to try to save the long-unused theater. He even brings in a group of Bela's show girls to help out. Complications ensue, but of course all works all well at the end.

Although the choreography by Robyn Tribuzi is pleasant enough, it lacks the verve, inventiveness and athleticism that have been the hallmark of many previous BBB shows. Musical director Attilio Tribuzi, her husband, leads the excellent orchestra, but vocally the show has some flaws, especially when it comes to pitch and blend. Pitch is a problem for Perez, who otherwise is a likeable Bobby and terrific dancer. Blend and pitch also are a problem for the Cowboy Trio in "Bidin' My Time" and for the show girls in "Nice Work If You Can Get It."

As usual, the fine sets and costumes are rented, with the sets coming from Starlight Theater and the costumes from the Theatre Company. Michael Ramsaur's lighting is outstanding, especially in numbers like "Girls Enter Nevada," which shows the Zangler girls in silhouette against a colorful sunset. The sound is by Bill Carrico, who seems to have overcome some of the acoustical problems in the high school auditorium that doubles as the San Mateo Performing Arts Center.

WolfKlain, the cast's only Equity member, makes an appealing Polly. Also noteworthy are Mary Kalita as Tess, the dance captain and Erica Wyman as Irene Roth, Bobby's shrewish fiancee. The men playing the cowboys seem to be locked into stereotypes as yokels.

Nevertheless, when everyone is up there tap-dancing in unison to "I Got Rhythm," it's hard to stop smiling.

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