Theater review: Dancing, singing ‘crazy’ good in Cohoes

I took tap dancing lessons for two years, mastered the shuffle ball change, and promptly retired at

‘Crazy for You’

WHERE: C-R Productions, Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen St. Cohoes

WHEN: Through May 22

HOW MUCH: $35-$25

MORE INFO: 237-5858 or

I’d like to dedicate this review to tap dance instructor Phil Jones, who had a studio in Stamford, Conn., from 1947-78. I took lessons for two years, mastered the shuffle ball change, and promptly retired at 7. However, I still know a good tap when I see it, and I saw plenty of it at Thursday night’s jaw-dropping production of “Crazy for You” in Cohoes.

This Tony Award-winning Best Musical from 1992 is a clever pastiche by Ken Ludwig. Basing his book on the Gershwins’ 1930 “Girl Crazy,” he has included songs from other Gershwin shows as well. The plot is predictable, the characters are two-dimensional, the jokes are from vaudeville days (Guest: “Can you give me a room and a bath?” Hotel proprietor: “I can give you a room. You’ll have to take your own bath.”).

And it all works.

Wealthy New Yorker Bobby Child (Christopher Lengerich) wants to be in show biz, but Mother (Paula Ginder) won’t hear of it. She sends him to Deadrock, Nev., to foreclose on an old theater, now a post office. When he arrives, he’s instantly smitten with postmistress Polly (Amy Prothro), who’s similarly interested until she finds out what he’s up to. He dresses up as Broadway producer Bela Zangler in order to help Polly, her dad (Sky Vogel), and the townsfolk save the joint, but the jig is up when the real Zangler (Jerry Christakos) appears. Oh, did I mention that Bobby has a fiancée, Irene (Amanda Trusty), who shows up unexpectedly? And then there’s a saloon keeper (Nick Abounader) who wants to buy the theater and will stop at nothing to get it. And I can’t forget the Fodors (Jim Charles and Michal Chorny), who . . . never mind.

It all works.

But the story plays, shall we say, second fiddle to the musical numbers. Lanky Lengerich is a natural song-and-dance man, and he also handles the comedy with aplomb. He negotiates the big ensemble numbers, like “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” and “Slap That Bass,” with ease, and he scores with the romantic “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” In Act 2, he and Christakos have fun with a duet called “What Causes That?” — a lament for lushes in love.

Prothro gets a chance to show her acting chops as well as her considerable musical gifts. Watch her expressions in “Could You Use Me/Shall We Dance.” Listen to her phrasing in “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “But Not for Me.” Mini-dramas, all. Dreams, and dreams dashed.

About the ensemble: I don’t know who they are by name, but I’ll never forget their faces. Or feet. Eleven young hoofers who tap the hell out of “I Got Rhythm” and “Slap That Bass” and who sing while they’re doing it, with personality. Come back, all of you.

Christopher George Patterson is the director and choreographer. Plaudits to him! Kevin Francis Finn plays keyboard and conducts a hot five-member pit band that makes us appreciate how basic to the American musical sensibility Gershwin is. And the sets, costumes and lighting values are first-rate.

“If you want this old world on a string, put on your dancing shoes.”


Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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