Susan Stroman’s West End revival of Gershwin musical Crazy For You has opened at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London.
Reviews are starting to come in for the show, which originally opened at the Chichester Festival in July 2022 to rave reviews from the critics.
The joyous musical stars Olivier-nominated Charlie Stemp (Mary Poppins, Half a Sixpence) as Bobby Child, Carly Anderson (Wicked) as Polly Baker, and Drama Desk Award winner Tom Edden as Bela Zangler, alongside Natalie Kassanga (Dreamgirls) as Irene Roth, Mathew Craig (We Will Rock You) as Lank Hawkins, Duncan Smith (White Christmas) as Everett Baker, Marilyn Cutts (Funny Girl) as Lottie Child, Sam Harrison (Les Misérables) as Eugene Fodor, Rina Fatania (The Killing of Sister George) as Patricia Fodor, and Jack Wilcox (Anything Goes) as Standby Bobby Child.
The ensemble and chorus includes Kayleigh Thadani, Kate Parr, Lila Anderson, Harriet Samuel-Gray, Imogen Bowtell, Laura Hills, Ella Valentine, Tara Yasmin, Marc Akinfolarin, Lucas Koch, Philip Bertioli, Jason Battersby, Ashley-Jordon Packer, Nicholas Duncan, Nathan Elwick, Liam Wrate, Joshua Nkemdilim, Nell Martin, Bradley Trevethan, Bethan Downing, Ryan Jupp, Jinny Gould, and George Bray.
The show is brought to life on stage by the acclaimed, multi-Tony and Olivier award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman, and has a book by Ken Ludwig, and songs by George and Ira Gershwin including knock-out hits Someone to Watch Over Me, I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away from Me.
The wider creative team includes set design by Beowulf Boritt; costume design by William Ivey Long; lighting design by Ken Billington; musical direction by Alan Williams; sound design by Kai Harada; new orchestrations by Doug Besterman and Mark Cumberland; original orchestrations by William David Brohn; new arrangements by David Krane; original arrangements by Peter Howard; wigs, hair & make-up design by Campbell Young Associates; fight direction by Rc-Annie; and casting by Jill Green CDG.
Reviews for the show last year at the Chichester Festival Theatre were extraordinary, with five-stars from the Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Financial Times and more.
Crazy For You is playing at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, booking to 20 January 2024.
Check out reviews from the Times, Evening Standard and more, with further reviews to be added.
Crazy For You reviews
"Everything in this spellbinding show is joyous"
"Call this Gershwin-style confection trivial if you want, but you’ll not find show more precisely tooled to give you a great night out"
"Everything in this show is joyous – Stemp’s tap-dancing; Anderson’s clarifying voice; an ensemble cast without flaw – but it’s this level of feelgood choreography that you won’t get anywhere else this year."
"There is perhaps something trivial about this story. There’s little doubt of anyone’s happy ending: Bobby’s abjuration to his mother that he’d cares more about showbiz than global news or “if Romania wants to fight Albania” feels a poor manifesto for theatre in a year we’ve seen war back in Europe. But we also need cheering up more than ever. Stroman’s show will do that job impeccably."
"Need your faith in humanity restored? Then catch this absolute joy of a show"
"A hit at Chichester last year, this West End transfer confirms Susan Stroman’s production of the Gershwin classic as a care-banishing elixir"
"... I defy anyone to see this show and not emerge feeling re-energised. It may not have the full ocean-liner magnificence of Anything Goes, London’s first – Cole Porter-powered – mid- or post-pandemic musical smash. But it has similar levels of wit and charm alongside its happy surfeit of tap-dancing and to-die-for tunes."
"There’s something almost Disney cute about the way the thrill of movement itself seizes the ensemble and turns them into a unified force; but it’s truly spellbinding."
"Once again, Stemp busts a gut (without breaking into a sweat) doing what he does best: delivering winning smiles, soulful singing and immaculate footwork, turning on a sixpence between the graceful and the goonish."
"... the whole ensemble are a sight, and a joy, to behold too. Go."
"Five stars for Crazy for You — a daft, dizzying musical that revels in the joy of theatre"
"... at the heart of this daft, dizzying musical, which wafts along on a score of Gershwin classics and a plot as frivolous as a feather boa, is a serious point about the transformative joy of theatre — of making it, delivering it, sharing it. And like 42nd Street, also set during the Great Depression, it slips in a shrewd economic argument for the arts."
"Stroman’s superb staging (first seen in Chichester last year) sews that creative ingenuity into her choreography. The glorious “I Got Rhythm”, which closes the first half, is a triumph of resourcefulness... that celebrates the inventiveness of live theatre."
"Carly Anderson’s Polly has a lovely, lilting dance style and reveals a wealth of longing in “Someone to Watch Over Me”. But the evening belongs to Stemp, who is simply terrific. He gives Bobby a winning combination of childlike enthusiasm, dazzling dance moves and sharp comic timing"
"Gershwin show is a dream of swooning romance, choreographic genius and megawatt performances"
"Gliding into the West End after an acclaimed run at Chichester last year, director-choreographer Susan Stroman’s production of this confection of breathtaking dance, giddy romance and Gershwin tunes is the stuff of musical theatre dreams. It’s pure escapism: a scintilla of featherlight hokum, consummately delivered – yet what extraordinary power it has to make the heart soar. I defy anyone to sit through it without a goofy grin on their face and tears pricking at their awe-widened eyes."
"As for the two leads, they are simply delectable. Carly Anderson is a gorgeous warm, tender and tough Polly Baker, daughter of the owner of Deadrock’s ailing theatre. And Charlie Stemp as Bobby Child, the stage-struck Big Apple rich kid set on saving the theatre and winning Polly’s heart, is simply phenomenal – an electrifying triple-threat talent with megawatt charisma."
"Stroman delivers surprise after surprise, intertwining expertly executed pratfalls with choreographic virtuosity. There are elegantly acrobatic shoot-outs, flying bullets and whisky bottles; pickaxes and ropes are wittily employed as props in routines that zing with invention, and in which every surface, from table tops to corrugated roofs, becomes an opportunity for dazzling tap dancing."
"The company’s footwork is insane. I came out wanting to tap dance on the bonnet of the nearest car."
"This transfer from the Chichester Festival Theatre is hugely enhanced by Charlie Stemp, the rubber- legged leading man."
"Susan Stroman’s direction and choreography are matchless. For I Got Rhythm the company grab saws, spades and pickaxes and go for it, closing the first half to a standing ovation."
"The evening pulsates with rhythm in an old-school extravanganza that will blow your eyebrows off"
"Guaranteed to put a spring in your step"
"Susan Stroman's direction and choreography in this dance-oriented romcom has such verve and lickety split speed - it is breathtaking."
"Charlie Stemp is rapidly becoming Britain’s leading song and dance man. More Donald O’Connor than Gene Kelly, he combines the cheeky persona of Tommy Steele with the manic energy of Jim Carrey. As the lovestruck hero of this musical based very loosely on Ira and George Gershwins’ Girl Crazy, he is just about perfect."
"Susan Stroman’s direction and choreography are breathtaking and the cast is equal to her demands that include tap dancing on trays or table tops, western waltzes, balletic solos as well as thunderous synchronized ensembles."
"Another thing musicals can do is leave you awed by the performers’ skill."
"... Charlie Stemp, in the lead role of Bobby the banker, is little short of balletic. Is there a touch of Jerry Lewis to him after being knocked out by Polly? Cue the tweeting sparrows. Stemp may fall just short on stage presence, needing 10 per cent more danger to be properly commanding, but he is a remarkable acrobat. At one tumultuous exit the spotlight catches him aloft, limbs flung wide, a picture of artistry suspended in our minds long after the blackout."
"You’ll be swept away by this Gershwin rom-com"
"It’s ludicrous. It’s lavish. And finally the romantic-comical shenanigans set to some of the greatest hits of George and Ira Gershwin is resistance-is-futile lovely too."
"... Susan Stroman’s capering production offers the same sort of extended swig of old-school-Broadway spectacle that made Anything Goes such a delight at the Barbican over the past two summers."
"The comedy can be broad or even boobyish — some of the lines would surely be thrown out at a script meeting for The Sooty Show. However, it’s the job of a knowing knockabout like this to induce such a happy sense of concussion in its crowd that we will swallow its nutty contrivances."
"... Carly Anderson, whose ease and sincerity hold the night together"
"Stemp is an electrifying performer, but if Bobby’s charm is initially abrasive, Stemp can also drop the kinetic nonsense to sing a truly affecting They Can’t Take That Away from Me."
"A stupendously good lead turn from Charlie Stemp powers this feelgood faux-Golden Age musical romp"
"‘Crazy for You’ is a lethally precise exercise in nostalgia"
"This transferring Chichester Festival revival has received rapturous reviews, but, I’m going to be honest: I’m a bit suspicious. Directed and choreographed by the great Susan Stroman – who in a further, meta layer of nostalgia, choreographed the original production – it is a dazzling widescreen spectacle, full of breezy good cheer, powerhouse performances, jaw-droppingly choreographed setpieces and songs as perky as a punnet of puppies. You want tap dancing? My friend, you will get tap dancing. So much tap dancing. But to what precise end? Bucketloads of talent have gone into ‘Crazy for You’, but it feels naggingly ersatz, a lavish imitation of a bygone era of musical theatre that’s slightly frustrating for the lack of anything more modern in it."
"... Stemp is so good that his presence alone feels like justification for the whole endeavour.... What marks his turn here is what a prodigious physical comedian he is."
"A joyous love letter to old school American showbiz"
"The show has a delirious weightlessness: for 150 minutes, you’re lifted out of care, and logic"
"This delicious confection of a musical banishes the cares of the world with sublime songs and dynamic tap routines. A Gershwin-scored boy-meets-girl story and a love letter to old-school American showbiz, it’s fronted with brio by boyish, buoyant Charlie Stemp as Bobby Child, the Depression-era banking heir who dreams of being a Broadway hoofer."
"It’s a joy: just don’t squint at the plot too hard."
"But the genius of Ludwig, Stroman and original director Mike Ockrent was to infuse this rickety structure with the wisecracking dialogue and heedless, who-cares-if-it-makes-sense energy of much American interwar entertainment. So we don’t just get dazzling New York showgirl costumes and parodies of Western saloon bar fights, but the sort of sly dialogue that existed before the Hays Code censored Hollywood in 1934."
"Most importantly, she [Carly Anderson] and Stemp seem to defy gravity when they dance."
"She’s [Susan Stroman's] added director to her credits for this 2022 revival, originally seen at the Chichester Festival Theatre, but it’s still her choreography that feels like genius. It’s just bliss."
"Yet for all its cleverness and charm, Crazy for You swings into most vivid life when the characters dance."
"It’s so inventive, so beautifully judged. It’s also exceptionally performed by Charlie Stemp as Bobby, who combines a gift for wonderful, prat-falling physical comedy, with light, insouciant grace, and percussively accurate feet."
"He’s matched by Carly Anderson who brings spirit and soul to Polly"
"The whole evening is full of joy."