By Kevin Albrechtsen and Yvette Albrechtsen
I love Westerns – Gritty cowboys, saloon brawls, gunfights, and the women that hold them together. But add singing and dancing, and what do you get? In this case, by adding a large dose of brothers George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and some pretty comical dialogue, you end up with the tremendously entertaining Crazy for You at the HopeBox Theatre in Kaysville, Utah. Although the show lasted over 2-1/2 hours, the limitless energy of the very talented cast, along with recognizable tunes, witty text, and entertaining choreography allowed Crazy for You to move along quite nicely. All this was packaged together at the HopeBox Theatre, an intimate venue with great views from every seat and surprisingly comfortable chairs.
Which brings me first to a short word about the venue. The Hopebox Theatre, along with ShowStopper Productions and ShowStopper Academy, was founded by Jan Williams to give hope “to those who are struggling, dealing with or a survivor of cancer or other life threatening ailments. This is a place where creativity, vision, talents combined with love and support can give back to all those who need some new “Hope” in their lives.” Each production is dedicated to a community member who is going through tough times s they struggle with cancer. Proceeds from the show, in addition to any cash dropped into the donation box, go to help the family as they are going through this crisis. I believe the theatre is succeeding in their goal, by giving hope and some peace to those who are suffering, if even for a few hours.
And hope is the driving thesis of the play. Bobby Child, played admirably by Peter Russell, is from a successful banking family who dreams only of being in stage productions, specifically those of Bela Zangler, as played by the comedic Zach West. The show opens with a chorus line at Zangler’s theatre in New York City. It’s here that Bobby sings and dances his way to failure, as Bela wants no part of this banker. Soon, Bobby’s mother, performed by Denise Adams, sends him to foreclose on a small, family-owned theatre in Deadrock, Nevada. A desolate place with one saloon, one hotel, and lots of whiskey.
We then arrive at Lank’s Saloon in Deadrock, a place where nothing happens. Cowboys bide their time drinking whiskey and have imaginary barroom brawls and gunfights. This is also the place of the Gaiety Theatre, a theatre with little entertainment and even less paying clientele. But there is always hope, in the eyes of tough Polly Baker, played by the immensely talented Emily Summerhays, and her father Everett, played by the laconic Quinn Nielson. But it is in this place that a poor, thirsty Bobby Child crawls into in order to foreclose on the Gaiety.
Driven along by the always popular songs of the Gershwin brothers, spot-on original choreography of Susan Stroman, and the witty dialogue of this Tony Award-winning musical, local director Jake Andersen and his staff are able to pull top performances from a talented cast for this production at the Hopebox Theatre. Russell, as the protagonist, is a joy to watch as he skillfully taps and sings his way into Polly’s heart. And Summerhays as Polly has one of the most divine voices I have heard in community theatre as she easily presents Someone to Watch Over Me.
But something should also be said regarding the depth of the very talented cast. It is exciting to know such talent exists so close to home. Throughout the evening, I found myself looking forward to the chorus line numbers, as they were led by the terribly fun-to-watch Rossy Thrall. And each member of the cowboy crew, as they sang their way between gunfights and whiskey-drinking, showed their individuality, even as they danced together as a group. And of course, there would be no story without what the supporting actors bring to the ensemble. The biting dialogue from April Beardall, as Bobby’s “fiancé”, the scheming presence of Paul Arnett as Lank Hawkins, the owner of the saloon who wants to buy the Gaiety at a less-than-honest price, and the perfect pairing of the traveling Fodor couple, Drew Anderson and Crystl Naylor.
During the finale, they used what sounded like a fire extinguisher to create a cloud like appearance. It was quite loud and basically obscured the performers. But that was the only real drawback in a wonderful evening.
Filled with Gershwin favorites such as I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away From Me, this simple story of believing in yourself and having hope in your dreams will stay with you long after the cast and crew have taken their well-deserved applause in a small theatre built to lift the spirits of those who need it most. Who would’ve thought that a bunch of rough cowboys, singing and dancing to Gershwin, could make for such an enjoyable evening. That’s what the HopeBox brings to Kaysville, pardners.
HopeBox Theatre presents Crazy for You, Book by Ken Ludwig, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and Music by George Gershwin Dedicated to Jay Peacock
HopeBox Theatre, 1700 S. Frontage Rd, Kaysville, UT 84037
Contact: 801-451-5259, email@example.com
Tickets: $10-$15 General Admission
February 9–24, 2018
Monday, Friday-Saturday 7:30 PM
Saturday matinees 2:00 PM
The show runs 2 hours 30 minutes with one 10-minute intermission
HopeBox Theatre Facebook Page
Crazy For You Facebook Event