Toe-tapping fun, a la Gershwin

Musical: Timeless standards and upbeat dance numbers compensate for silly story line in `Crazy for You.'


Arundel Live

August 12, 2004|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In a musical where the song list includes "Someone To Watch Over Me," "Embraceable You," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "I Got Rhythm," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It" - George Gershwin mega-standards one and all - you'd expect the score to dominate the proceedings.

But that's not the case in Crazy For You, Ken Ludwig's reworked show featuring the songs of George and Ira Gershwin at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre through Sept. 4.

For despite the killer score (which is superimposed atop a witless story line), it's the dancing that leaves the strongest impression.

Enter Jodi Adkins, a veteran of the local stage and a recent graduate of Point Park College in Pittsburgh. She has returned to Summer Garden to take this silly story - of a Wall Street banker and showbiz wannabe who heads for Nevada to save a theater, turn cowpokes into dancers and win the girl of his dreams - into the most irresistible toe-tapper in recent ASGT memory.

Adkins has her cast hoofing it from start to finish in upbeat tap numbers such as a spunky "Slap That Bass" interlude where the girls become bass fiddles "played" by the fellows, and in ballroom steps and lifts that are a lovely match for the breezy elegance of Gershwin.

Bravo to the ensemble and to her. And Adkins also throws a hilarious "dumb blonde" showgirl performance into the bargain.

The singing, while more variable than the dancing, is pretty good most of the way, especially when Jillian Locklear takes center stage as Polly, the feisty Western gal who wins the heart of Bobby Child, the New York banker-turned-song-and-dance man.

Locklear, a student at Mary Washington College and a veteran of Annapolis' Talent Machine company, gets most of the classic songs and delivers them with admirable technique and depth of feeling. She can croon well, and when she lights the afterburners and goes into "belt" mode, the volume and vibrato remain within acceptable limits. And true to her Talent Machine heritage, she can dance up a storm.

She's paired with Trent Goldsmith, who's also light on his feet. He does a hilarious impersonation of the Hungarian impresario, Bela Zangler, who also shows up out West, giving the audience a delightful case of double vision when the two confront each other in a "mirror" scene worthy of the Marx Brothers.

What Goldsmith is less successful at is staying on pitch, especially when Polly and the ensemble aren't there to back him up. (How ironic it is when he chides his beloved for "the way she sings off-key" in "They Can't Take That Away from Me.")

Other fun performances come from Steve Drapalski as the hilarious Moose, who is not the swiftest of cowboys; Faith Hayden, who's very funny as Bobby's jilted New York flame; Michael Nichols as Lank, the Western meanie out to ruin everything; and Brad Thompson as the "real" Bela Zangler, whose mirroring of Bobby is the comic highlight of the show.

Because choreography rules the roost in this season's final Summer Garden show, tribute must be paid to Myles Park and Amanda Cimaglia, excellent featured dancers in a cast full of excellent featured dancers.

Crazy for You plays Thursdays to Sundays through Sept. 4. at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, 143 Compromise St., across from the City Dock. For tickets, call 410-268-9212.

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