This revival of Crazy For You, which won the Tony for best musical in 1992, is proving to be a crowd favourite at The Player's Theatre in Sarasota. Performances have been extended for another week, so you can still see it if you are planning a trip to the West coast.
The cast of thousands (well, not really, but it seems that way as the stage is completely full of actors) does a very fine job with a play that has from the beginning suffered from its origins. It has always been billed as the "New Gershwin musical" because it takes famous songs from a few great Gershwin musicals and tries to cobble them together into a new play (it is largely based on Girl Crazy, a 1930 production).
As a result there is no convincing story arc linked organically with the music. It sometimes seems forced, and the fact that the play consists of a series of ever more improbable events does not help.
This is not the fault of the cast, who perform admirably with the material they have been handed. The three lead characters are played by Logan O'Neill and Bobby, Chip Fisher as Bela, and Lindsay Nickel de la O as Irene, all of whom have appeared on The Player's Theatre stage before.
The highlight of the production derives from an old sight-gag made popular in early silent movies. In the most famous of these, a man looks into a mirror and naturally sees himself. What he does not realise is that the guy behind the mirror just broke it, and to avoid upsetting the man he mimics every movement. Of course, they both look virtually identical!
The same concept is used in this play, where Bobby is impersonating Bela at a hick town in Nevada. The theatre producer Bela then shows up in said town, and when they meet in a drunken state neither one realises he is looking at another person - it's just an alcohol-induced hallucination! They play it with perfect timing.
Crazy for You is directed by Jared Walker, who teaches acting at a Montessori school in Sarasota. For more information visit the website: www.theplayers.org