Friday 23 February 2018

Head over heels about Crazy for You

Ahead of its Dublin run, Andrea Smith was enchanted by toe-tapping magic

Former 'Strictly Come Dancing' winner Caroline Flack says her role in 'Crazy for You' has reignited her passion for musical theatre
Former 'Strictly Come Dancing' winner Caroline Flack says her role in 'Crazy for You' has reignited her passion for musical theatre

When I arrived in Leeds to preview Crazy For You, I didn't know much about it. Two hours later, I came out of the theatre and kept bursting into the fabulous score from George and Ira Gershwin's songbook, which I'm sure was a pain for my companions.

This particular production boasts a stellar cast, including Tom Chambers of BBC's Holby and Casualty fame, and Love Island presenter, Caroline Flack. Both are Strictly Come Dancing winners - he in 2008 with Camilla Dallerup and she in 2014 with Pasha Kovalev.

Set in the 1930s, the plot of Crazy For You centres on Bobby Child, played by Chambers. He's a frustrated would-be Broadway dancer with a wealthy, overbearing mum, Lottie, who interferes in his love life and believes he should join the family banking business. She sends him to Deadrock, Nevada, to pursue a defaulting theatre owner, but he falls in love with the adorable Polly Baker, played by Charlotte Wakefield, whose dad owns the failing theatre. Problem is that he's engaged to Irene Roth, played by Flack, who is pressuring him to name the date.

Bobby comes up with a plan of putting on a show and casting locals alongside some of his own pals, the Follies Girls, to try to save the theatre. Things go pear-shaped when an angry Irene arrives in town, and Bobby tries to escape her clutches. It all sounds a bit mad and it is, but you need to suspend disbelief around the plotline and enjoy the fun and the amazing musical numbers.

There are so many classics to enjoy, like Someone To Watch Over Me, I Got Rhythm, They Can't Take That Away From Me and Nice Work If You Can Get It. Charlotte Wakefield is stunning in the role of Polly and her voice is sublime. We all fell in love with Derbyshire's Tom Chambers, 40, who is outstanding as Bobby. His physical comedy skills were a highlight of the show, and his singing and dancing numbers were excellent. He was also divine in person. "I really feel I've hit the theatre lottery jackpot, because I've loved the role of Bobby since I was 15," he says. "I sat in the audience hoping I'd get to play it one day as it's such a funny role."

It's so physical that Tom has to put ice on his legs after performances to stop inflammation. Caroline jokes that he strips to his boxers and walks around his room with skinny legs that are blue from the ice. Then again, it's a small price to pay for the life he dreamed of when he worked as a caretaker and pizza delivery boy.

Caroline, 37, is looking forward to coming to Dublin, as she previously had a great night out in The George. She worked as a magician's assistant prior to landing her high-profile TV roles, but winning Strictly reignited her passion for musical theatre. And actually, while she sings only one number, she has an excellent voice. "I thought Irene was really annoying at first but now I love her," she laughs. "Everything she says is right."

The show has a hugely talented ensemble, who sing, dance and play musical instruments. Among their number is 23-year-old Kate-Anne Fenton from Cork, who also plays the flute and is the on-stage female swing.

A bus has already been booked to take the Bandon crowd to Dublin for the show, including her delighted parents, Ann and Donie. Kate-Anne trained in musical theatre at Bird College in London, and she landed a summer season in a musical in Yorkshire after graduating last year. She was thrilled to win the role in Crazy for You, her first touring production. She was fabulous on stage - definitely one to watch,

"For me, to land a role at home would be glorious," she smiles. For now though, Kate-Anne is crazy about the show she's in, and Irish audiences will be too.

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