Arts and Entertainment

They got rhythm, they got music in 'Crazy for You'

Bob Cederwall (left) and Bart Berg put a cowboy spin on a Gershwin tune in “Crazy For You” at Bainbridge Performing Arts. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Writer
Bob Cederwall (left) and Bart Berg put a cowboy spin on a Gershwin tune in “Crazy For You” at Bainbridge Performing Arts.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Writer

Billy the Kid zooms by, long tresses and satin shirt tail flying.

“I love the theater, the theater is my life,” Lizzie Sivitz, aka “the Kid,” says – but the line is a throwaway, tossed over her shoulder as she runs onstage.

The Odyssey multiage program fifth grader takes her place among the 28 cast members as the house lights come up for the finale of “Crazy For You,” the musical now at the Playhouse through May.

Sivitz and the rest of the cast and crew have been hard at work for weeks, rehearsing the all-singing, all-dancing show updated from George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930s production, “Girl Crazy.”

The story was rewritten in 1992 by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent to remain true to the era of Florence Ziegfeld and his “Follies Girls” while appealing to contemporary taste. The 1992 Broadway production played more than 1,600 performances. During that long run, the show garnered three Tonys, five Outer Circle Critics awards and two Drama Desk awards.

“Crazy for You” takes place during the Depression in New York City and Deadrock, Nevada, but the setting is secondary to Gershwin’s incomparable music, which includes “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You” and more.

The story features Bobby Child, a young banker who is sent to Nevada by his parents to foreclose on a theater. When he meets Polly Baker, the theater owner’s daughter, it’s clear right away that love, not money, will triumph.

The Wild West setting might seem an odd context for Gershwin’s urban and urbane sensibility, but the plot twists are sheer fun, the dance numbers dynamite and the finish righteously satisfying as boy gets girl – an end that needed no rewrite.

“As the 1930s Depression dragged American spirits down, shows like the original ‘Girl Crazy’ lifted them up,” director Karolynn Flynn says.

“Now, ‘Crazy for You’ lifts us up out of our confusing times, if only for a short while.”

* * * * *

The BPA production of “Crazy For You” is directed by Karolynn Flynn, with musical direction by Betsy Dunlap and choreography Renee Kinnear, scenic design by Steven Fogell, production design by Mark Sell and costume design by Janette Force.

The musical runs through May 25 at the Playhouse, with performances at 7:30 p.m. May 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25, and matinees at 3 p.m. May 12 and 19. Tickets are $21/adults, $17/seniors and students, with special Pay-What-You-Can performances 7:30 p.m. May 16 and 23. Tickets may be purchased at the BPA box office or charged by phone at 842-8569. More information about this production and others is on view at BPA’s new website: www.theplayhouse.org.

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