Performing last night for the first time in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, students from the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory’s Master Summer Theatre Arts School (STAS) presented a dazzling production of Crazy for You, the Tony Award®-winning 1992 adaptation of the 1930 George and Ira Gershwin musical Girl Crazy. This stellar STAS presentation, which commenced its all-too-brief three-night stand on Friday night, is so good that its run should be stretched to a couple of weeks.
The music and lyrics are, of course, by George and Ira Gershwin, but the book is by Ken Ludwig. The choreography by director and choreographer Tito Hernandez is done in the style of the original Broadway choreography by Susan Stroman; and the expertly trained and talented STAS students quickly sang, danced, and acted their way into a house full of appreciative hearts.
The scenery is terrific, with several different locations flown in as necessary to follow the action between Broadway, NYC, and Deadrock, Nevada, and interiors as well. Designer Chris Bernier takes the bow for this creative and well-executed set of sets.
Joshua Reaves has vividly lighted the show. Billie Pierce’s New York and Western costumes are pure Broadway quality, although it was discomforting to notice (unavoidably) bra straps showing in a few of the Follies Girls red dance wear.
Joshua Keen sparkles as Bobby Child, the rich boy who wants to dance rather than be a big banker. Keen’s dancing reveals his seven years of training at the conservatory; it is very polished and sophisticated. His voice and charm match his steps. He and Collin Yates as Bela Zangler (whom Bobby Child is impersonating) synchronize precisely (and not so) in their mirror image duet.
Carly Grissom is stunning as Polly Baker, with a vocal control that impresses as it serenades. She is the perfect coupling for Joshua Keen in the dance duets.
The Cowboy Trio — consisting of Matt Sheaffer, Chloe Calhoon, and Joseph Gaitens — is also outstanding, in their side performances. Moreover, Patrick Harvey, as Polly’s father, Everett Baker, has great fun with his recurring shtick of keeping his theater open in memory of his late wife.
The nine Follies Girls and the Ensemble consisting of another 13 singer-dancers, plus 15 principal and other parts, often put 37 cavorting bodies on stage, weaving cleverly and light-footedly among each other. That is a credit to their own skill and the masterful direction of Tito Hernandez. Their routines are professional-quality work, these emerging stars are much to be admired.
Music director Michael Santangelo has assembled a 13-piece orchestra to support and accompany the dancer-singers, and they gloriously fill Fletcher Opera Theater with the George Gershwin classics that all America loves.
This is a show well worth getting to if any tickets are, in fact, still available. It is a chance to see extraordinary blossoming young talent.
SECOND OPINION: Aug. 17th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Jeffrey Care: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-North-Carolina-Theatre-Conservatorys-CRAZY-FOR-YOU-20150817; Aug. 13th Durham, NC WTVD/ABC11 interview with actors Carly Grissom and Joshua Keen, conducted by Barbara Gibbs: http://abc11.com/925465/; Aug. 11th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh interview with director and choreographer Tito Hernandez and actors Carly Grissom and Joshua Keen, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-North-Carolina-Theatre-Conservatorys-CRAZY-FOR-YOU-20150811; Aug. 10th Raleigh, NC WNCN interview with director and choreographer Tito Hernandez and actors Carly Grissom and Joshua Keen, conducted by Valonda Calloway and Alex Butler for “My Carolina Today”: http://wncn.com/2015/08/10/nc-theatre-conservatory-crazy-for-you/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Aug. 7th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/08/crazy-for-you-combines-glorious-gershwin-tunes-with-the-knee-slapping-comedy-of-ken-ludwig/.)
The North Carolina Theatre Conservatory presents CRAZY FOR YOU at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 15, and 2 p.m. Aug. 16 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
BOX OFFICE: 919-855-0015 or http://www.etix.com/.
SHOW: http://www.nctheatre.com/nct/blog/are-you-ready-to-get-crazy, http://nctheatre.com/blog/all-about-crazy-you, http://www.nctheatre.com/blog/all-about-crazy-you-0, and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/crazy-for-you-6215.
VIDEO LOG: http://www.nctheatre.com/blog/crazy-you-conservatory-crazies-vlog-series.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/page/about-conservatory and https://www.facebook.com/NCTheatreConservatory.
Crazy for You (1992 Broadway and 1993 West End musical): http://www.tamswitmark.com/shows/crazy-for-you/ (Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.), http://gershwin.com/publications/crazy-for-you/ (George and Ira Gershwin’s website), http://www.kenludwig.com/crazy_for_you/crazy_for_you.php (Ken Ludwig’s website), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=2807 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_for_You_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
George Gershwin (Brooklyn, NY-born composer, 1898-1937): http://gershwin.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=5813 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006097/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gershwin (Wikipedia).
Ira Gershwin (New York, NY-born lyricist, 1896-1983): http://gershwin.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=6435 (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Gershwin (Wikipedia).
Ken Ludwig (York, PA-born playwright and screenwiter, 1950-): http://www.kenludwig.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7069 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0525024/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Ludwig (Wikipedia).
Tito Hernandez (director and choreographer and the NCTC’s director of dance): http://www.nctheatre.com/page/about-conservatory (North Carolina Theatre bio) and https://www.facebook.com/tito.hernandez.9279 (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.