Ken Ludwig’s musical “Crazy for You” is built around one of the most familiar dramatic frameworks imaginable: A big shot New Yorker travels to a small Nevada town where he’s been assigned to close down the local theater. He takes a shine to the theater owner’s daughter, so he decides to organize a show-stopping production that will turn around the theater’s luck at the last minute.
It’s an old formula, yet that’s part of its appeal – it’s the kind of reliable plot that you might have seen Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney act out in one of their movies. (They did, actually. Their 1943 film “Girl Crazy” is based on the stage musical that inspired “Crazy for You”). It probably helps, too, that the musical score of “Crazy for You” is made up of George and Ira Gershwin classics – “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “Shall We Dance?”
Civic Theatre opens its version of Ludwig’s Tony Award-winning Gershwin tribute Friday night, and its production has been directed and choreographed by local actress Kathie Doyle-Lipe.
“It’s your typical boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back kind of story,” Doyle-Lipe said. “You can recognize tunes you’ve heard for years, get some good laughs out of the production and brighten up a winter day.”
The Gershwin music, which is culled from several of the brothers’ productions, is indeed the selling point of “Crazy for You,” and the audience will be able to hum right along with most of the songs. But Doyle-Lipe hopes that they will also come away with a greater appreciation for songs they might have heard a hundred times before.
“It’s always nice to have a visual representation of a song along with the audio,” she said. “So getting to see someone up there pouring their heart out during a love song or dancing for joy – it brings an added dimension to the songs.”
“Crazy for You” is, of course, filled with that great Gershwin music, but it’s also heavy on dance numbers, and Doyle-Lipe said that the cast consists mostly of untrained dancers. “I’m really impressed with what our dancers are doing; a few of them haven’t even had tap shoes on before,” she said. But their progress, she said, has been remarkable.
“The process is to just do it over and over and over again, ad nauseam, until they’re sick of hearing me say, ‘You need to fix that,’ ” Doyle-Lipe said with a laugh. “And they always live up to it. It’s real rewarding for me, and I’m sure it’s going to be even more rewarding for them, once they see the audience appreciation.”