July 11th – September 4th 2022
Nothing short of spectacular! This feel good romantic musical comedy, celebrating the 30th anniversary of its New York debut, is now commanding standing ovations night after night at Chichester Festival Theatre’s 60th anniversary season.
Multi award-winning Director/Choreographer Susan Stroman and her magnetic brilliance brings this hugely energetic dance-driven show to life. Ken Ludwig’s book and dialogue with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin give joyous reflection to this original juke-box musical.
Set in the 1930’s Bobby Childs is torn between the demands of his overbearing mother and wealthy fiancée and his ultimate dream of a life on stage. Reluctantly he heads west to a former mining town in Nevada to foreclose on a mortgage for his mother’s bank. However, he discovers the property concerned is a dilapidated Victorian theatre and the owner’s daughter is the girl of his dreams! Frantic to impress her he proposes they should put on a show complete with glamorous dancers and rejuvenate the rundown town once more.
With some cracking show-stopping musical numbers that include “Biden My Time”, “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “I Got Rhythm”, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and of course “K-ra-zy For You” and incredibly imaginative high octane dance routines, the audience are swept along to such an extent there was a standing ovation closing the first half! Something I have never seen before.
Charlie Stemp was on top form. He rose to fame following his 2016 performance at Chichester Festival Theatre as Kipps in “Half A Sixpence” and now is an award-winning West End/Broadway artist. He heads the cast delivering a dazzling performance. Barely off stage his magical dancing, gymnastic skills and sensitive portrayal of the love-struck Bobby Child is exceptional. The object of his desires, strong minded Polly Baker is admirably played by Carly Anderson who again impresses with her skilful dancing prowess and strong vocals. Merryl Ansah (Irene Roth) delights as the temptress out to seduce hotelier Lank Hawkins, finely represented by Matthew Craig. Tom Edden excels as the Hungarian Bela Zangler which includes a fabulous scene, shot through with humour, when he and Charlie Stemp mimic each other while very much under the influence of rather too much alcohol!
An exemplary company dance and sing throughout bringing this fantastic and visually stunning show to a foot stomping climax that brought the whole theatre to it’s feet in raucous appreciation.
Reviewer: Jill Lawrie