Life & Culture

Crazy For You review: The joy of Gershwin adds fizz to our straitened times

Charlie Stemp stars as hapless New York banker Bobby Child in a fizzing, delightful morale booster


CRAZY FOR YOU by Gershwin, , Music & Lyrics - George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, 
Book by Ken Ludwig, Direction and Choreography - Susan Stroman, Set Designer - Beowulf Boritt, Costume Designer - William Ivey Long, Lighting Designer- Ken Billington, Musical Director - Alan Williams, Wigs, Hair & Make-Up Designer - Campbell Young Associates, Gillian Lynn Theatre, London, 2023, Credit: Johan Persson/

Crazy For You
Gillian Lynne Theatre | ★★★★✩

You will search in vain for this Gershwin show’s history if you look too far back. Ken Ludwig’s boy meets girl romantic plot is in the madcap tradition of the classic 1930s musical comedy, but this one actually premiered in New York in 1992. The award-winning result placed the award winning choreography of Susan Stroman permanently on the radar of dance-loving theatregoers.

The show is therefore a much more recently constructed framework on which to hang George and Ira Gershwin’s timeless songs, including I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away From Me, than you might have expected.

This revival, first seen in Chichester, has tempted the doyen of dance Stroman back to the show, this time as both choreographer and director. Consequently no show in London has better dancing.

Even the glorious chorus lines of 42nd Street with its equally ridiculous show-within-a-show plot, and which recently transferred to Sadler’s Wells from Leicester, cannot match the invention of Stroman’s choreography which could make a stone twitch so contagious is its energy.

The excellent hoofer and singer Charlie Stemp plays the hapless New York banker Bobby Child. Born into a banking dynasty his mother expects Bobby to join the firm. But Charlie’s heart is in dancing not depositing.

As a kind of punishment she sends her son to Nevada and the desert town of Deadrock where it is Charlie’s job to foreclose on an old theatre that can no longer pay its bills.

Here he meets the owner’s daughter Polly played by Carly Andersen with a mixture of home spun charm and rootin’ tootin’ cowgirl attitude. But because it turns out they can both dance like Najinsky, love quickly blossoms until Polly realises that Bobby is from the bank that wants to take her father’s theatre away.

The story is not the point here. What counts is the alchemy that happens when music is combined with weightless dance creating the chemical reaction that scientists —and everyone else — call joy.

It is a shame that Stemp’s goofy Bobbie and the country girl cool of Anderson’s Polly generate almost no sexual chemistry.

Both are brilliant dancers but it is telling that they are more watchable when they are apart than when they are together.

Still what they lack in passion they make up for in skill. Stemp – the talent that burst onto the scene with Half a Sixpence — is well known.

However Andersen who is best known for her Glinda in Wicked is a revelation. In set pieces such as first act climax of I Got Rhythm, Anderson leads the ensemble with a commanding calm that belies even Stroman’s challenging steps.

Meanwhile, Tom Edden as a Groucho-like theatre producer Bela Zangler manages to be halfway funny with nothing more than comedy clichés. A fizzing, delightful morale booster for these straitened times.

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