There may be nothing better to shake off the funk of winter or today’s resonating ‘Orange Oppression’ than a warm and zany Gershwin musical.
Combining fast-paced dance, humour, and jazz hits from the 1920s and 30s, Crazy For You is set to be a transporting experience. The production, directed and choreographed by Dayna Tekatch who has worked on several productions at the Citadel, enlists theatre stars from Edmonton as well as Toronto—including Andrew MacDonald-Smith in the starring role of Bobby Child.
It is a story of the conquest of love and theatre over mean financial concerns in Depression-era America. Bobby is sent by the family business to foreclose on the Gaity Theatre in Deadrock, Nevada, but falls in love with the owner’s daughter, Polly (Ayrin Mackie), and stages a show as a last-ditch effort to save the theatre and win her love.
The show, tightly packed with comedy and tapdancing, features the Gershwin classics, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Someone To Watch Over Me.”
This award-winning, “new” Gershwin musical is based on a 1991 update of the 1930 production Girl Crazy—with a new story by Ken Ludwig—that was a smash on Broadway and the West End in the first half of the 90s. It combines numbers from Girl Crazy with others from the Gershwin songbook. This year marks the 25th anniversary of its first major production in New York.
The Citadel team is betting we need this escape into a world ruled by love and art just as audiences did during the Great Depression. If the rich seem too powerful, here we have a landlord capable of a change of heart. If the horizon is darkening, here we see the light of the human spirit.
“The intention of this show,” says Tekatch, was “to create light in what was a really dark time—the Depression, when this style of musical was born. My desire is the same. There’s so much going on right now that’s so frightening and this show is a confection of beautiful things. It would be very hard for anyone to remember what’s happening in the news while they’re watching it. I think it’s a complete diversion and will be extraordinary in accomplishing just that.”
The production is massive and lavish, with 22 actors and more than 250 costumes. It will be a spectacle. Having recently seen MacDonald-Smith in Stewart Lemoine’s Witness to a Conga, there is something positively Fred Astair-esque about the man, and we should expect great things from his portrayal of Bobby, grinning and tapping across the stage.
What stands out for Tekatch is how all the elements of the show combine to tell the story of the marriage of two communities.
“The showgirls from New York and the cowboys from Nevada, who have absolutely nothing in common, create a world together. And the creation of that world makes each of their individual worlds richer. I think it’s that, the humanity of people coming together, that’s the most satisfying.”
There is much about Deadrock, Nevada, that we will relate to, says Tekatch.
“The open skies and the friendly nature of the people is very reminiscent of Edmonton, as well as the desire to bring something back to life with nothing but desire. They don’t have any money and they try to put on a show to save a venue. It’s very endearing to have people that care so much that they want to make it work.”
Crazy For You
The Citadel’s Shoctor Theatre
$30 to $115