Review by Danny Gaisin
A little personal trivia; almost 6 decades ago, I was in N.Y. to see “Gypsy” and had the opportunity to have tea with its star Ethel Merman. On being introduced; her comment on hearing my name was “Danny; last name wouldn’t be Churchill, would it?” Seems her first Broadway role (1930) was in the Gershwin’s musical –GIRL CRAZY’s Molly opposite the ‘Danny’ role! Skip ahead to 1992 and an updated version “CRAZY FOR YOU”.
Same songs and parallel plot; but just as popular as the original. Meadowvale Music Theatre’s presentation opened last week but fear of Friday’s inclement weather caused this chicken-ish driver to miss seeing the 1st night performance. Sorry, cast & crew… My (our) loss!
The plot is simplistic… big city scion who wants only to dance is sent out West to foreclose on a decrepit theatre.
Boy meets theatre-managing girl; boy falls in love; girl hates banking boy who takes on an alias persona; girl falls for the aka; a show is staged – boy & girl reunite –Curtain!
The director team of Danny Harvey and conductor-wife Erica have re-created a gem-like, just-about-perfect candidate for O.A.R.’s TOP TEN list! Staging, costumes, choreography and cast selection are all perfect, professional and vibrantly true theatre. In other words,: – enjoyable, entertaining, polished & flawless. Lines such as “Who’d ever want to come to Nevada to gamble?” are drolly stated; and the ‘Les Miz’ prop set’ commentary about how “it looks too much like the French Revolution” is an audience howler. The two lead roles [Bobby & Polly] are portrayed by Ryan Jeffrey and Raylin Marcotte. He’s a marvellous tap & soft-shoe hoofer (whose style is more Astaire than Kelly) with a fine voice and pleasant demeanor. Marcotte is a vocal treat with an amazingly expressive face and manner. “Her smile just beams ♪” to quote a lyric. Both are loveable, show an obvious chemistry, thus we can’t help but hope they’ll end up (on-stage) as a couple. The support cast is numerically large and incredibly talented with full measure contribution being imparted by even the walk-on rolls.
The Snidely Whiplash character, saloon keeper ‘Lank’ is humorously parodied by Craig Marshall, banker-heir ‘Bobby’, has a back-home fiancée who interrupts the out west activity, Cecily Restivo Petroff plays her as a nuisance, then as a totally sex-kittenish seducer who sings and dances a Salome-temptress solo that raises the temperature; especially Marshall’s. As often happens, there are meaty support roles that allow their depicters an opportunity to shine. Super casting by the Harvey’s, afford Matt Willis to display terpsichorean talent that belies his physique as well as a comedic sense of timing worthy of a Jack Benny et.al. The ditsy stereotypical blonde (read dumb) chorus girl is played to the hilt by diminutive Katherine Cordi and she’s a scene stealing dynamo. Her shrill singing, synchronized dance numbers and blank-stared comprehensional pauses are comedic purity. This musician-appreciating scribe was quite taken with Adam Dolson’s (Moose) ability to acquire a talent on the bass so rapidly. Not even études or scale-runs were needed! Cue:-cut to green klieg spot on D.J.G.
The sure-fire highlight moments have to be the chorus numbers. Polly and her ‘I got rhythm’ number with the company is a standout and worthy of anything Sheridan College or professional T.O. offerings could stage, and the big “Slap that bass” number are highly creative choreographic successes, both from Renee Belforte’s ingenuity & imagination to the split-second execution by a wonderful drill team group of dancers. Hopefully, MMT will videotape these exquisite examples of the genre.