In Review

Crazy for You review: a ‘divine’ revival that will ‘knock you for six’

Musical theatre ‘doesn’t get any better’ than this Chichester Festival production

Chichester has a monster hit on its hands with this “divine” revival of Crazy for You, said Arifa Akbar in The Guardian. First staged on Broadway in 1992, it is largely based on George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930 musical Girl Crazy, but it incorporates some classic numbers from other parts of the Gershwin oeuvre.

The show’s original choreographer, Susan Stroman, also directs, and the result is “spectacular entertainment” – a giddy feast of irresistible physical comedy and punning wisecracks, infectious melodies and, perhaps best of all, a fabulous “whirligig” of dancing – “tap, ballroom, chorus-line and balletic movement, all effortlessly athletic”.

This “magnificent” production will “knock you for six”, agreed Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph. As with Cole Porter’s Anything Goes (1934), its theme is a simple one, about that relatable “yearning to break free, escape the rat race and follow your passion”.

Bobby, the scion of a New York banking family, is sent to foreclose on an ailing theatre in the small town of Deadrock, Nevada – but on arrival he is instantly smitten by the place, and by Polly, the young woman who runs it.

The madcap plot that follows loads an awful lot onto the “shoulders (and dancing shoes) of Charlie Stemp”, who plays “the banker with a heart of gold”, but he is simply sensational. He switches deftly between “rubber-limbed goofball and epitome of debonair charm”, and achieves an apparent “weightlessness in his waltzes, quick-turns and tap frenzies you never tire of watching”. And he is matched for “poise and sparkle” by Carly Anderson as Polly.

In a show packed with classic numbers (including Someone to Watch Over Me and Nice Work If You Can Get It), Anderson has the best tunes, and she sings them beautifully, said Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail.

As for Stemp, he displays the “physical comedy of Norman Wisdom and the dancefloor artistry of Fred Astaire”, confirming his place as a true star of the genre. Musical theatre really “doesn’t get any better than this”.

Chichester Festival Theatre, West Sussex. Until 4 September

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