Janet, Theo, Wendy, Gaelan, Britt

Gateway Theatre’s romantic musical offering of the holiday season is a delightful triumph. Crazy for You is crammed with exuberant dance numbers, addictive show tunes, rigorous choreography, and razor-sharp dialogue. The intensity and vigor of the entire cast never waned, delivering eye-popping punches during act one and then a knock-out, jaw-dropper finale.
The initial Broadway production premiered at the Shubert Theatre in 1992. It was an immense success, winning the Tony Award for Outstanding Musical that year. Little surprise as the music and lyrics were composed by the gifted Gershwin brothers, George and Ira. 

George grafted his own indelible flavour of rhythms into jazz tunes while Ira penned unforgettable lyrics. Together they churned out catchy swing-style melodies that hooked audiences around the globe. The fertile imagination of playwright Ken Ludwig coherently binds the show together with a sprinkling of his witty repertoire and mad-cap hijinks. The final product is a hilarious, non-stop roller-coaster musical that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
The plot of Crazy for You is no head-scratcher. In fact, it’s filled with stereotypes and trifling situations. Rich banker’s boy, Bobby Childs (Gaelan Beatty) longs to dance on Broadway and attempts to audition for the Hungarian impresario, Bela Zangler (Jonathan Holmes). 

When he fails to impress, Bobby’s ogress of a mother (Wendy Bollard) prods him to deal with the family business of foreclosing on a property in Deadrock, Nevada. He agrees to go, hoping to appease her and to escape his nagging soon-to-be-ex fiancée, Irene (Britt MacLeod). 

Kate Blackburn and Follies
[Kate Blackburn and Follies]

In Deadrock, he finds the damsel of his dreams, Polly (Kate Blackburn) and hatches a scheme to save her doomed theatre and the middle-of-nowhere-town. Sorry for all the spoilers, but most audiences aren’t attending for the wafer-thin storyline. Instead they are served heaping helpings of slap-happy good times by an unstoppable cast with infectious energy. 
Director Barbara Tomasic masterfully weaves the glitz and glamour of the swinging 30’s into her production. Under the grand span of her artistic wings explodes a dazzling cast, a band of high-calibre musicians, and ravishing costumes, all housed in an incredibly slick set. Marshal McMahen’s stage is sensational to view, as distinct venues morph seamlessly into each other. 

The simplicity of glowing lights to portray New York City gives way to azure skies in Deadrock, Nevada. The mood is enhanced by John Webber’s savvy lighting transitions. Musical director Christopher King ensures that the precise orchestra never misses a beat through all the demanding rhythmic numbers while Bradley Danyluk deftly oversees the other sound effects. 

Slap That Bass
[Slap That Bass]

Costumer Carmen Alatorre demonstrates crackerjack proficiency in her use of hues and textiles. Rich brocades, gleaming taffeta, luxurious furs, crisp cotton, and many other fabrics swing to the tempo of exhilarating choreography (Julie Tomaino). 

During high-intensity all-cast numbers such as Slap That Bass and I Got Rhythm, the performers swirl into an intoxicating kaleidoscope of colour. 

Crazy for You is a tremendous success because every member of the huge cast contributes 110% to make it that way. The show would have less splendor with one less vivacious Follie girl or one less bumbling cowpoke, tapping across the stage. Every performer deserved the standing ovation lavished by the audience. Gaelan Beatty was terrific as the awkward but well-intentioned Bobby, masterfully executing every tap step, dance step, and even tumble step.  

Gaelan Beatty, Kate Blackburn
[Gaelan Beatty, Kate Blackburn]

With fiery gusto and a sweetly soaring voice, Kate Blackburn’s portrayal of Polly is both graceful and emotional. When Beatty and Blackburn pair up on stage, their chemistry ignites their song and dance. 

Although the character of Irene doesn’t occupy much of the story, Britt Macleod heartily devours the role – no utensils required – during her song Naughty Baby. Jonathan Holmes’ dual performance is pure delight to watch. His precise timing, deliberate gestures, and distinct facial contortions infuse unspeakable hilarity and individuality into his characters of Bela Zangler and Eugene Fodor. 

The marvelous contributions of the rest of the cast also deserves mention. The dexterous dancing Follie girls are: Lyndsey Britten, Allison Fligg, Ariel Seidman-Wright (as the lovable, ditzy Patsy), Jacq Smith, Jennifer Suttis, Afton Toler, and Julia Ullrich. The comical cowpokes are: Stuart Barkley, Henry Beasley, Theo Budd, David Z.Cohen, Jarret Curtis Cody, Caleb Di Pomponio, Justin Lapena, Ben Purych (as the adorable, clumsy Moose), and Nick Preston

Rounding out the cast are Laura Ross as the sensible dance director Tess, Robin Sukorokoff as Polly’s easy-going father Everett, and William Ford Hopkins as the sour villain Lank Hawkins. 

The Follies in Crazy For You
[The Follies]
This dynamic Gershwin musical unleashes a rollicking, foot-stomping evening for all ages. The Gateway Theatre can accommodate over 500 guests but their parking lot only has room for 120. 

Arrive early for the best and most economical parking. Additional parking is available next door at the Richmond Hospital, but at a substantially higher cost. You may also want to check out their “dinner and show” packages. Extra time will also give you a chance to enjoy beverages or buy a raffle ticket to support the theatre. Crazy for You continues on the mainstage through December 31.

Photos by David Cooper.

About Our Contributor Cora Li

Cora Li

Cora dabbles in arts, technology, food, and travel. She loves that Vancouver offers a vast playground for exploring all of her passions. Cora’s most memorable job to date was working with VANOC during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

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