Lyric Theatre's 'Crazy for You' a toe-tapping tribute to Gershwin tunes

Lyric Theatre's 'Crazy for You' a toe-tapping tribute to Gershwin tunes

URBANA — "I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?"

That's what one Broadway great, Cole Porter, composed about the Gershwin brothers.

Lyric Theatre at Illinois' production of the Tony Award-winning "Crazy for You" opens tonight at Krannert Center. George and Ira Gershwin's reconfigured comedy includes classics such as "Shall We Dance," "I Got Rhythm" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It."

Sarah Wigley is the director, Michael Tilley the music director and Charlie Maybee the choreographer in one of the funniest and most hummable musicals of that great musical decade, the 1930s.

To maximize the hits, "Crazy for You" follows much of the 1930 musical "Girl Crazy," but adds songs from other Gershwin productions.

Wigley grew up with Gershwin playing in her house.

"I've been giving these songs to students for individual voice study for a decade now," she said. "My favorite Gershwin tunes are 'But Not for Me' and 'They Can't Take That Away From Me,' which appear back-to-back in our show."

"Crazy for You" is the story of Bobby Child, sent from New York to Deadrock, Nev., to foreclose on a broken-down theatre. He meets Polly Baker, who, in the Gershwin tradition, is spunky — the daughter of the theater owner. So you can expect romance in the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tradition.

"I definitely wanted to stage this musical in a traditional way. I feel particularly purist about Gershwin, and the fact that there is so much tap-dancing feels indicative of the time period and style of the 1930s," Wigley said.

In 1992, the New York Times' Frank Rich wrote "'Crazy for You' scrapes away decades of cabaret and jazz and variety-show interpretations to reclaim the Gershwins' standards, in all their glorious youth, for the dynamism of the stage."

The glorious youth include 25 students majoring in theater, acting, dance, voice and other classes. Most have not had tap-dancing experience. Only a few of them had ever taken a tap-dancing class.

They've worked hard, Wigley said, and know their material.

"Many of these Gershwin standards were familiar to the students ... our artistic team are all Gershwin fans," she said.

If you go

What: Lyric Theatre at Illinois' production of "Crazy for You"

Where: Krannert Center

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $10 to $35

Box office: 217-333-6280, krannertcenter.com/events/crazy-you

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