This week Jenny and my three daughters went to see Crazy for You at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Two of those daughters remember going to see Ruthie Henshall in the 1990s but this one didn’t disappoint. It’s a crazy story about a bunch of performers saving a theatre would you believe in the middle of the desert by putting on a show? But it works – not only on a corny level, but the songs are fantastic, and the tap dancing takes it somewhere else.
I think most people love the thrill of lots of tap-dancing feet shimmying together – that exuberant sound seems to pass right through you. And there were plenty of beautiful stage pictures at the end of numbers.
The love stories may be cheesy, but they still get to you. It’s partly the music but it’s also the playing of the two stars of the show, Charlie Stemp and Carly Anderson. They brought the feisty madness of people who fall in love instantly and weather the ups and downs along the way in the craziness of it all – that word again.
What I enjoyed most about the show was the dance. I love the way dance has a special place in musicals. It operates on a different level to the story and the characters. It lifts the joy or heartache out and amplifies it. It’s abstract not being in the here and now and that’s why I think it’s central to the storytelling. It tells us about the characters on a deeper level. It expresses their yearnings or their frustrations. If it’s done well, it touches your own feelings and that was the case here. Embraceable You becomes a lyrical dance for the central characters that wraps up their hopes and dreams in such an expansive way using the whole stage.
I’ve Got Rhythm and Slap that Bass become extended romps of songs hitting objects and making sounds and images in a series of set pieces that constantly take it up a gear. But equally Stiff Upper Lip is a hilarious take on British understatement when things aren’t working out.
It’s almost a perfect musical. It has a silly but funny story, larger-than-life characters, romance, controlling characters that get their comeuppance, great songs, comic routines and a happy-ever-after finale. What’s not to like? We came away humming the songs, carrying the pictures in our heads but above all we felt more optimistic and happy than when we walked in.