THEATRE MUSICALS / Old score draw hits the jackpot: Paul Taylor, theatre critic, and Edward Seckerson, music critic, on Crazy For You at the Prince Edward Theatre

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Crazy for You is roughly 30 per cent of George and Ira Gershwin's classic Girl Crazy, wrapped up in a brand new book (was the old one really so unworkable?), and liberally seasoned with a sprinkling of other Gershwin goodies. Stir and simmer. Sounds appetising. But why should Gershwin show-songs be regarded as any more interchangeable than the arias from Mozart or Puccini operas? And can too many standards spoil the broth? George and Ira knew about ingredients, they knew how to structure a score. 'Someone to Watch Over Me' was the musical centre of gravity of their 1926 show Oh, Kay]: suddenly it's sharing the limelight with three other classic ballads. And whoever believed that you could segue 'They Can't Take That Away from Me' and 'But Not for Me' without diminishing both songs?

But you know what they say about gift horses: at the Prince Edward, music director Jae Alexander powers one of the best pit bands I've heard this side of Broadway. William D Brohn's sleek orchestrations lend a contemporary sheen to the sound originally created by Robert Russell Bennett: a platinum-plated topcoat of trumpets is at the cutting edge, the addition of horns to the quintet of saxes lends opulence. Maybe George would have approved of Brohn's affectionate borrowings from the Piano Concerto in F; I think if he'd seen Susan Stroman's wonderfully inventive choreography (she's a whizz with props - 'Slap That Bass' is positively surreal) he too might just have put 'I Got Rhythm' where it belongs - a scorching Act 1 finale with a whole new vocabulary in percussion. ES

Comments