Photo: Johan Persson

It may feel old, but Crazy For You is a surprisingly new musical. Based on George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930 show Girl Crazy, and drawing additional songs from the brothers’ back catalogue, Ken Ludwig’s book is actually from 1992. This revival – first seen last summer at the Chichester Festival Theatre – is directed by Susan Stroman, who choreographed the original Broadway production some 30 years ago. In the lead role is Charlie Stemp (most recently on the West End as Bert in Mary Poppins) as Bobby; opposite is Carly Anderson as love interest Polly.

It tells a straightforward boy-meets-girl story. Bobby’s mother works for a bank and sends him to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on their theatre as they haven’t been keeping up with the mortgage payments. Upon arrival Bobby falls for Polly, the daughter of the theatre owner, and decides to try and save the venue by putting on a show. It’s wafer-thin material which is full of cheesy lines and corny jokes – but Crazy For You is not really about the story or the dialogue. It provides a setting for a series of song and dance spectaculars to unfold, which is what the audience has really come to see.

We’re pleased to report it has those in abundance – whether it’s an impressive follies number at the top of the show, complete with elaborate outfits and over-the-top headdresses, or the creative use of telephones or ropes within its routines, or simply some wonderfully-precise tap numbers, Crazy For You is full of eye-catching choreography and enjoyable set-pieces. The songs are great, of course; drawing from the Gershwin brothers’ catalogue, it’s full of recognisable material including I Got Rhythm and Someone To Watch Over Me. The orchestral arrangements are fantastic.

There’s not a huge amount to Crazy For You – the story is silly froth which is only held together by the complete conviction of the actors – it is essentially a vehicle for two and a half hours of song and dance numbers. But what spectacles they are: there’s not another show that looks quite this impressive on the West End right now. A fun, feel-good night out.

GAY TIMES gives Crazy For You – 4/5

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