With Crazy for You, the Stranahan Theater gets its 2004-05 season of Broadway musicals off to a delightful start.
Based on George and Ira Gershwins' musical Girl Crazy, Crazy for You is an old-fashioned love story filled with timeless Gershwin tunes such as "Someone to Watch Over Me," "I Got Rhythm," and "They Can't Take That Away from Me."
Most of the songs weren't written for the play, but they work nonetheless, thanks to Ken Ludwig of Lend Me a Tenor fame, who updated the story, removed some now-distasteful ethnic references, and added a lot of snappy dialogue.
The stars of the show are Doug Barton as Bobby Child, Kelly Lynn Cosme as Polly Baker, Josh Mertz as Lank Hawkins, and Sarah Townsend Turner as Irene Roth.
Well, that's what the program says, but anyone watching the show will rapidly come to the conclusion that the real stars are the girls of the Zangler Follies, with their mile-long legs, costumes that look like Valentine candy, infectious giggles, and high-energy dancing.
The story is this: Bobby wants to be a Broadway hoofer, but his fiancee, Irene, is demanding that they get married, and his mother wants him to go into the family business: banking. Forced to choose between Irene and Mom, Bobby chooses Mom. He heads out West to foreclose on an old theater.
In Deadrock, Nev., Bobby meets Polly, the daughter of the theater's owner, and falls head over heels in love. Polly, however, won't have anything to do with Bobby when she learns of his assignment.
Saloonkeeper Lank Hawkins is delighted to see this, for he wants to marry Polly and to buy the theater to expand his saloon. As for the townfolk, they can't be bothered. They're too busy watching the dust settle.
That's when Bobby comes up with the idea of pretending he's impresario Bela Zangler and putting on a show in the old theater. He calls on his pals, the vacationing Zangler Follies dancers, to come out and help.
Barton uses his charm and a good voice to good effect in the role of Bobby, and he is evenly matched by the lovely Cosme as Polly. On her first national tour, she has a talent for interpreting Gershwin music, especially in "Embraceable You" and "But Not for Me."
Mertz, an Otsego High School graduate, shows a flair for comedy as the clueless Lank, who gets most of the laughs, especially when Irene shows up to drag Bobby home.
Crazy for You works on many levels. If the story isn't to your liking, pick something else: the music is grand, the sets are inspired, the costumes are gorgeous, and the Zangler Follies girls will win your hearts.
It's a no-lose proposition.
"Crazy for You" is staged in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. today, and 2 and 7 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets range from $32.50 to $41.50. Information: 419-381-8851.
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