The Gershwins, jazz, and the 1930s might be arcane to teenagers, but this was a welcome challenge for Michael Kastner, who selected Crazy For You as the spring musical extravaganza he would direct at St. Francis de Sales High School.
“We chose it because it’s hard,” he explained. He’s not exaggerating. The tap dancing finale at the end of Act 1 alone is an exhausting 9.5 minutes long.
“We also wanted change,” he continued. “Last year we did Les Mis [Les Miserables]. It’s an all-singing musical. The opposite of a singing musical is a dance musical. That’s what we have in Crazy For You.”
And if your cast can’t tap dance, especially the males, well, no problem. Just put them under the tutelage of Karen Niewiadomski, who has her own dance studio and is the production’s choreographer. Intense training and rehearsals began early in January, and the teens now step to the music like Tommy Tune.
PHOTO GALLERY: High school spring musicals
“Only two of them had tap skills,” Ms. Niewiadomski , whose D & D Dance Studio is in West Toledo. “Most of the boys had no dance experience. If you teach them slowly and be consistent, they can grab it. They’re a good group to work with.”
Crazy For You is a romantic musical comedy, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, that deals with career failure, success, and true love. It opened on Broadway in 1992, adapted from the Gershwins’ 1930 Girl Crazy, and won a Tony Award for Best Musical. Probably its most famous number is “I Got Rhythm.”
The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and again May 9 and 10 in the Franciscan Theatre at Lourdes University. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and are available at the school at 419-531-1618. All seats are reserved.
Mr. Kastner said the cost of the production will be about $30,000, most of which the school hopes to recoup in ticket sales.
Mr. Kastner said the elaborate sets — depicting New York City and Deadrock, Nev. — fill two tractor-trailers.
The two-act show has 64 cast members and a live orchestra. Male performers are students at St. Francis. Females are from Notre Dame and St. Ursula academies.
One of the leads, Kurt Elfering, a junior, wears pinstripe suits and a tuxedo for his character of Bela Zangler, whom he described as “pretty extravagant.”
The character bemoans his fate when he is forced to leave New York’s Great White Way for the backwater of Deadrock, and hilarity ensues.
Contact Carl Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6095.