Do you remember?

Crazy for You

At this musical dress rehearsal for Crazy for You, male lead Joshua Jessup kicks out the jams, while the orchestra plays on.

At this musical dress rehearsal for Crazy for You, male lead Joshua Jessup kicks out the jams, while the orchestra plays on.

Photo By David Robert

I watched Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company’s Crazy for You on a rehearsal night when only musical numbers were being performed. Despite never having seen the Broadway comedy before, I felt I was being entertained by an old friend, charismatic and charming in all his there’s-still-a-week-until-performance flaws. I was already acquainted with the cast, the songs and the stage.

At 6 years old, I gave my first performance in front of a crowd as the lead poodle in a tap-dance number at the Carson Community Center. The stage didn’t appear to have changed. As I watched at least 30 adult actors perform the impressive dance and song routine to “I Got Rhythm,” I thought how cute and tiny I must have appeared upon that enormous stage.

The lead female, Michelle Freeman playing the part of Polly Baker, was also a familiar surprise. Freeman was one year my junior when I attended Galena High School. I remember the year after I graduated going back to Galena to see a performance of Godspell, and Freeman’s performance shocked any lingering poodle right out of me. She had a voice that nowadays could land her on American Idol or with a reputation as a premiere lounge singer or an operatic diva. Her sound is solid, crisp, mature and seductive and can range from a deep, soulful jazzy swish to a perky pop tone. When she sang “Someone to Watch Over Me,” her presence and her vocal chords filled the room and secured all my attention, which can sometimes drift during solos. It helped that she had the backing of a strong and very together live orchestra.

Crazy for You’s cast is full of actors who’ve played strong characters in other local plays. Joshua Jessup, playing the lead male role of Bobby Child, is a fine and enthusiastic actor, whom I’d seen in Nevada Repertory Company’s Merchant of Venice and as Mark Antony in Nevada Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar. (Kirk Gardner, who plays impresario Bela Zangler, was also in Caesar as Cassius.) This was the first time I’d heard Jessup sing, and he has a voice that fits right into a Broadway musical: very masculine and a bit brusque with a lot of character. Jessup’s and Freeman’s voices are nice counterbalances. It also wasn’t long ago that I saw Domenic Procaccini II, playing Pete of the Cowboy Quartet, in the role of Romeo in Brewery Arts Center’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

The actresses playing the Follies Girls—a group of dancers/singers who travel from New York City to Deadrock, Nev., to help Bobby save the Gaiety theater that’s at risk of being foreclosed upon—were overflowing with energy and smiles.

Crazy for You, which first opened in 1992, is an adaptation of George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930 musical comedy Girl Crazy. It’s directed by Robert Grant and produced by Stephanie Arrigotti, who is also the artistic director and conductor. It’s also full of almost every Broadway theatric imaginable. There are countless costume changes, every kind of dance move ever put into a Gershwin musical, and all the requisite it-could-only-happen-in-a-musical maneuvers. There’s the kiss at the top of a ladder and the song sung while an actor lies on his belly and forearms, eyes looking longingly into the heavens.

Between the exaggerated ploys and the profusion of talent, Crazy for You is an over-the-top production that looks to be terrifically fun. It’ll be hard for anyone to leave without a smile on their face. I just saw the music, and I was beaming.