Crazy for You – Magical Entertainment at the Birmingham Hippodrome

From the opening notes of Gershwin’s sublime ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, you know that ‘Crazy For You’ is going to be something special. What you are not prepared for is just how wonderful a musical this is. It is warm and funny, witty and sparkling, full of classic one-liners, incredible, classic songs and memorable dance routines. And, in Tom Chambers, it has a 1930s matinee idol to rival Cary Grant for charm, and Charlie Chaplin for slapstick style comedy.

The story is a mixture of backstage romance, mistaken identity and overcoming the odds. Bobby is a rich New Yorker who longs for a career on stage, and is trying to escape from a domineering fiance Irene. Sent to foreclose on a the theatre in Deadrock, he falls instantly in love with the feisty Polly. But Polly is expecting Bobby’s arrival and instantly hates the man who will close Deadrock’s beloved theatre. Bobby devises a plan to win Polly over by pretending to be theatre impresario Bela Zangler and saving the theatre by putting on a show. Unfortunately, the plan works too well, with Polly falling in love with the fake Zengler. And then, a furious Irene turns up in Deadrock. The musical has plenty of twists and turns until the audience gets the Hollywood ending it is hoping for.

As Bobby, Tom Chambers totally steals the show. He has wit and charm in abundance, and shows a remarkable capacity for physical and slapstick comedy. The dancing that made him such a popular Strictly winner is shown to brilliant effect, particularly in scenes where he is called to tap dance. Tom brings that touch of 1930s glamour to a play that is a stunning homage to the classic age of Hollywood.

Tom is perfectly paired with Charlotte Wakefield as Polly. Her vocal performance is stunning, particularly on ‘Embraceable You’, and, in Polly, she creates a fabulous modern heroine who can stand up to any man or woman. Polly is warm, feisty and inspiring, and Charlotte Wakefield plays this perfectly.

Caroline Flack is a revelation as Irene. Sassy, wise-cracking and super sexy, Flack plays Irene as a 1930s broad, well able to handle Bobby’s monster of a mother, and certainly able to hold her own amongst a cast with an overload of talent. Her rendition of ‘Naughty Baby’ is a hoot, as she seduces bar owner Lank, who had previously been an object of her scorn. Caroline Flack gives a great brazen performance that was a real crowd pleaser.

The songs of George and Ira Gershwin are used so well in ‘Crazy for You’, particularly ‘I got Rhythm’ that ends act 1, and a beautiful poignant version of ‘They can’t take that away from me’. And it would be wrong not to mention the sheer beauty of the ending, a fitting conclusion to a 1930s musical out of time. ‘Crazy for You’ is simply sublime.

Crazy for You

Birmingham Hippodrome

Wed 25 – Sat 28 Oct

Click here for ticket info

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