Last weekend the King’s Theatre hosted the Portsmouth Grammar School’s annual musical. This year the musical was ‘Crazy for You’, written and scored by George and Ira Gershwin, two of the best songwriters of the 1920s, which follows Bobby Childs (Bradley Jackson), a young man in New York whose ambition is to dance on stage. However Bobby is torn between two women: Irene (Laura Verrecchia), his fiancée who wants him to succeed in anything other than dancing, and his mother (Abby Moss), who wants him to work for her bank, neither of which want him to dance. His mother forces him to go to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose a rundown theatre there but on arrival Bobby falls in love with Polly(Emma Watkins), the theatre and the town. What ensues is absolute madness as Bobby tries to win over Polly and save the theatre by dressing up as Zangler (Ben Cranny-Whitehead), a famous theatre producer, and putting on a show. Whilst Irene arrives in Deadrock to get Bobby back, forming several love triangles including with Lank (Barney Carter), who owns the hotel of the town and wants to develop the theatre as part of his hotel but also wants to marry Polly. If it sounds like a lot of confusion, that’s because it is. There are constant twists and turns with a dozen side plots that are all inevitably resolved at the end of the show.
PGS really made their mark on the piece with the use of Mr Priory’s excellently executed cameo role. The show opened with Mr Priory coming on stage and explaining that the King’s Theatre would be closed down, sparking the ‘pupils’ to put on a show to save the theatre, this show being ‘Crazy for You’. This believable performance had people questioning until his reconciling phone call at the end confirming that the pupils had saved the theatre. This added an amusing and unique element to the show, though quite cheesy.
The music was of course fantastic. The band played with character conducted enthusiastically, for the last time, by Mr Gladstone. This gave the cast the opportunity to sing with great ability and emotion. The musical numbers were easily the best part of the show with incredible choreography and persistent energy throughout. However there are two numbers that drew my attention particularly.
Firstly ‘Slap that Bass’ was performed with such rhythmic awareness and vigour. Jonathan Yang played the bass throughout, and in another number played the violin live, adding to the authenticity of the production. The lighting was used very effectively to complement the use of rope in the choreography. It felt musical, energetic and exciting, which is exactly how it should've felt.
‘I Got Rhythm’, I'll admit, was the number I was most looking forward to. It lived up. First of all just making it to the end of the flip filled, jump jammed, eight and a half minute number was enough to make me applaud. Not only this but continuous effort and a comfortable feel for individual characters kept the momentum and energy alive.
Other notable moments include everything with Polly’s father (Oliver Saunders), who was characterised so well and not only hilarious but simply joyful to watch and listen to (that accent). Also the Zangler-on-Zangler bar scene was a stroke of genius with unfaultable interplay between the two Zanglers and a very physical commitment to the scene. Beyond that the throwaway one liners from Lank were excellently timed for full comedic effect and the harmonising cowboy trio were delightful.
The other notable part of this production was the ambitious set. This made for some slightly clunky set changes, saved by the band I would add, but it also meant a beautiful and extravagant set was able to accentuate the feel of each scene.
Overall the performance was just a joy to watch. It was a real fun romp that made me laugh throughout. The one word I keep coming back to with this is energy which could most clearly be seen through the important performances of Floss Willcocks, leading the dancers, and Poppy Goad. An absolutely astounding show. Congratulations to all those involved.