Crazy for You
Gillian Lynne Theatre, London, until January 20
Unlike the people behind the joyless reworking of Oklahoma! that’s still playing in London, Susan Stroman gets that the only point of a big old-fashioned musical is to showcase the big numbers, ensure the language and the characters created in a bygone era don’t offend contemporary audiences and ensure everyone on both sides of the curtain gets to have a lot of fun.
In these objectives, Stroman, who directs and choreographs this revival that began life at the Chichester Festival Theatre, succeeds admirably. No expense has been spared on the romantic comedy, with words by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin, and it fills every millimetre of the gigantic Gillian Lynne stage.
It’s the big numbers and only the big numbers that matter in a show like this, and, if it’s a bit of a slow burn, it’s simply because there isn’t anything much to tap your shoes to in the first half hour or so, but it comes alive the moment the cast get to belt out Nice Work If You Can Get It, Embraceable You and I Got Rhythm.
Carly Anderson, as the young woman trying to make a success of an ailing theatre in a former goldrush town in America, has maybe a bit more star quality than her romantic interest Charlie Stemp – the big city boy dispatched to close it down – but together they do pass muster.
The stand-out acting performance, however, was Rina Fatania as a hoity-toity travel writer. This actress has that quality which requires you to look and listen to her, and, better still, she has funny bones. I’ve seen her in tragedy and high farce and she always delivers. All in all, a fun, if undemanding, night out for all the family.