Sunday, February 19, 2012

broadway birthday CRAZY FOR YOU -Happy 20th Birthday!

Twenty years ago today the Broadway musical Crazy For You opened.  It would go on to win the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical and run for 1,422 performances.   Based on the 1930 musical Girl Crazy, Crazy For You was billed as the "The new Gershwin musical comedy" as it was a musical with a new book but interpolated many of the songs from the George and Ira Gershwin catalog including many from Girl Crazy like "I Got Rhythm."  It also included the hugely popular Gershwin songs "Someone To Watch Over Me" and "They Can't Take that Away From Me" which were from the Gershwin musicals Oh, Kay and Shall We Dance respectively.

With a book by Ken Ludwig, Crazy For You is the story of Bobby Child, the young, wealthy son in a banking family who just wants to sing and dance.  The show starts with him auditioning for Bela Zangler, the impresario of the Zangler Follies.  When he fails to impress Zangler, his mother who wants nothing to do with Bobby's dancing business sends him off to Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on a theatre there. In Deadrock he meets Polly, the daughter of the owner of the theatre and he falls in love with her.  But when Polly learns who he is, the man who is there to foreclose on their theatre, she wants nothing to do with him.  So Bobby comes up with a plan, he will disguise himself as Zangler, get the Follies girls to Deadrock to put on a show to raise money to save the theatre and end up with Polly.  Happy Ending, right?  Not exactly, as the real Zangler shows up in Deadrock, and that's just the first Act!

Harry Groener and the female ensemble
The original Broadway cast included Harry Groener as Bobby, Jodi Benson as Polly, Bruce Angler as Bela and Jane Connell as Bobby's mother.  Groener, Benson and Angler were all nominated for Tony Awards.  The show included beautiful costumes by William Ivey Long, who would also win a Tony for his efforts and an imaginative set design by Robin Wagner.

Crazy For You was the first Broadway musical to combine the talents of director Mike Ockrent and Susan Stroman.  Ockrent previously directed the hit show Me and My Girl and together they would go on to create the Broadway shows Big, the Musical and A Christmas Carol as well as get married and work together until Ockrent died in 1999.  Stroman would win a Tony award for her spirited choreography for Crazy For You and go on to direct and choreograph Contact, The Producers, Young Frankenstein and The Scottsboro Boys.  Stroman has now won five Tony awards.

Benson and Groener
A London production of Crazy For You opened in 1993 and ran for almost three years.  A production at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse was filmed and aired on PBS' Great Performances in 1999.  While a Broadway revival has yet to happen a revival in London is currently playing, it opened last Fall after a successful Summer production in Regent's Park.  

A new Gershwin musical Nice Work If You Can Get It opens on Broadway this April.  It is an updated version of the musical Oh, Kay and will feature songs from that show, including "Someone To Watch Over Me" which was also heard in Crazy For You and others from the Gershwin catalog.  It will be interesting to see if there will be any other songs in this show that were also in Crazy For You and if Nice Work If You Can Get It will be as successful as Crazy For You was. 

So Happy 20th Birthday Crazy For You!

Harry Groener and the Broadway cast perform "I Can't Be Bothered Now" from the Tony Awards:

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