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Review: Crazy For You at New Wimbledon Theatre

At New Wimbledon Theatre between 6-10 March 2018, highly-acclaimed musical Crazy For You has been winning rave reviews for its high-energy song-and-dance routines.

Strictly Come Dancing 2008 winner, Tom Chambers embraces the role of Bobby Child, a frustrated and restless New York dancer, whose wealthy family own a bank. Adventure calls him to Deadrock, Nevada, where he is charged with shutting down a failing theatre.

Seasoned musical pro Charlotte Wakefield plays Polly Baker, the feisty passionate daughter of the theatre’s owner, who wants to put on a show to save it from going under. Together, they hatch a plan and, what follows, is a mixture of love stories, a few mistaken identities, spicy fights and a warm glow from the always-on energy from the extremely talented cast.

If your idea of an enjoyable theatre trip is having lots of things to talk about afterwards, then there couldn’t be a better show.

Older audiences will like the nostalgic songs from across Gershwin’s playbook – I Got RhythmThey Can’t Take That Away From MeNice Work If You Can Get It and Embraceable You are classics that theatre-lovers will note from several shows.

Younger audiences will enjoy the slapstick physical comedy, the one-liners and the non-stop entertainment in this fresh story written in the 90’s.

Everyone will be impressed by the fact that all cast members needed to be able to play an instrument (guitar, violin, trumpet, drums, bass, saxophone, oboe, among others), dance, sing and act – sometimes a few of these were done simultaneously.

Yet there’s still room to be playful with the directing, while negotiating the practicalities of playing instruments live, as evidenced by a scene in which cast members lay on their backs with their feet up in the air, so their shoes can be used as drums.

This Watermill Theatre production slims down the original grandeur into a lighter, more mobile production, but it still creates a big impression. The set is well designed and lit – and it has little nooks and sections that mean you never know where the cast will be popping out of next.

This leg of the tour also includes TV and musical star, Claire Sweeney, adding some cheeky allure as Irene, Bobby’s impatient fiancéeparticularly in her dazzling solo Naughty Baby.

The cast size is impressive, and each character is well defined, and has substantial time on stage, showing off their musical, theatrical or dancing skills. There wasn’t a moment that jarred, and the scene changes happened seamlessly – signs of true dedication to the details and their craft.

One of best physical comedy moments of the play involves Bobby, dressed as Bela Zangler – a prominent Hungarian director – alongside the real Bela Zangler (played by Neil Ditt). They perform a drunken dance, mirroring each other’s movements, while singing What Causes That.

And, my word, Tom Chambers’ tap-dancing across the empty stage is something to be seen. His personal history with Crazy for You is just as magical – he first watched it at the age of 15, and it was his first experience of a musical.

Published in SW Londoner

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