From left, Maggie Spicer plays the part of “Polly,” Corey Wheeler plays the part of “Irene Roth” and Joey Boos plays the part of “Bobby Child” in the Salina Community Theatre’s production of “Crazy for You.” (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal) | Buy Journal Photos


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From left, Corey Wheeler, Joey Boos, Sarah Stoss and Joe McKenna rehearse for Salina Community Theatre’s production of “Crazy For You” on Thursday, July 29, 2010. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal)

From left, Devan Castle, Simeon Rawls and Joe McKenna rehearse for Salina Community Theatre’s production of “Crazy for You” on Thursday, July 29, 2010. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal)

Crazy for Gershwin

By GARY DEMUTH Salina Journal

When it comes to the musical “Crazy for You,” everything old is new again.

Many of the songs for this 1992 Broadway hit were written in the late 1920s by the great American composer George Gershwin and his brother, acclaimed lyricist Ira Gershwin.

Among the classic tunes featured in “Crazy for You” are “Embraceable You,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “Bidin’ My Time,” “But Not For Me” and “Shall We Dance?”

The songs, several of which were written for the Gershwin Brothers’ 1930 show “Girl Crazy,” were reworked into “Crazy for You” with a new book by Ken Ludwig, author of the popular stage comedies “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo.”

“Crazy for You” was a huge Broadway hit, running for more than 1,600 performances and winning the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical.

The musical will be performed Wednesday through Aug. 15 at Salina Community Theatre, 303 E. Iron. The show is a production of the Center for Theatre Arts, SCT’s education department, and features a cast of high school and college-age performers.

Trouble in Deadrock

“Crazy for You” is about a stage-struck New York playboy named Bobby Child, the rich son of a banking family, who blows an audition with unscrupulous Broadway musical producer Bela Zangler. The dejected Bobby is sent by his mother to foreclose on a rundown theater in Deadrock, Nev. While there, he falls in love with the theater owner’s daughter, Polly, disguises himself as Zangler and puts on a show to raise money to save the theater.

Misunderstandings and mistaken identities follow, but as befitting an old-fashioned musical, everything leads to a happy ending.

John Henningsen, education director at SCT, said “Crazy for You” is a musical he has wanted to direct for years.

“It’s classic Gershwin music, with the gorgeous standards we all know,” he said. “It has beautiful ballads, upbeat songs, and lots of tap dancing and comic schtick.”

See what they’ve learned

It’s also an ideal musical to test the skills of students enrolled in the theater’s dance, vocal and acting classes, Henningsen said.

“It’s the goal of CTA to train students for the stage and do shows in which they can use the skills they’ve learned in their classes,” he said. “What they’re being taught in classes is what they’re doing on stage.”

Last summer, Henningsen directed the student edition of the dramatic musical “Les Miserables” and two years ago directed the more lighthearted musical “Grease.”

Henningsen said he likes alternating serious musicals with more fun, comedic offerings.

“After doing ‘Grease,’ we did something serious like ‘Les Miz’ to give students a chance to stretch their muscles,” he said. “This year, it’s back to lighthearted.”

The cast is a mix of students and recent graduates of several area high schools, including Salina South and Salina Central high schools, Ell-Saline Junior-Senior High School and Smoky Valley High School.

From Elvis to tap shoes

Joey Boos, a May graduate of Salina South, is playing his second major role in a row on the SCT stage. In June, he played the lead in the Elvis Presley-inspired rock musical “All Shook Up.”

Playing the high society-bred Bobby Child is a marked contrast from the motorcycle-riding greaser Boos played in “All Shook Up,” but he considers it a greater challenge.

“There’s a lot of tap dancing, and you have to move to fast-paced music,” he said.

Before being cast in “Crazy for You,” Boos admitted he was not familiar with the music of George and Ira Gershwin. Now he said he’s a big fan.

“It’s catchy and gets stuck in my head,” Boos said.

Maggie Spicer, who plays Polly, also was featured in “All Shook Up.” In that musical, Spicer played a character who was “young, bubbly and energetic.” Polly, she said, is the polar opposite.

“She’s a tomboy who knows how she’s supposed to dress but doesn’t know how to act,” Spicer said.

While “All Shook Up” was an energetic rock musical, Spicer said, “Crazy for You” features more romantic music.

“And a lot of tap dancing,” she said.

nReporter Gary Demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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