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When I was just a kid, nothing seemed more entertaining to my young sensibilities than a good tap dancer on TV or in a film. Donald O’Connor was probably my favorite, with his easy style – and Fred Astaire was unbelievably brilliant to me. It seems that this old penchant for the clattering of taps hasn’t left me. Watching Beef and Boards’ second show of their 2015 season, Crazy for You , which is filled with sparkling tap numbers, made it all come back to me.

The show is an adaptation of the original Gershwin brothers’ production, Girl Crazy, and features a ton of Gershwin tunes, some I was really not at all familiar with. This adapted version first appeared on Broadway in 1992 and wound up winning a Tony Award for Best Musical that year. Frank Rich, reviewing for the New York Times, wrote that it provided (the) “American musical’s classic blend of music, laughter, dancing, sentiment and showmanship” and indeed the show has all that. Not only are we treated to songs by the great Gershwin brothers, the script was the work of Ken Ludwig, whose writings include B&B’s 2014 production, Lend Me a Tenor, as well as Moon Over Buffalo, Leading Ladies and a musical version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The show is full of Ludwig’s witty comeback lines which provide many of the laughs.

Blake Patrick Spellacy (Bobby Child) and Hillary Smith (Polly Baker) star in Beef & Boards' production of "Crazy for You"

Blake Patrick Spellacy (Bobby Child) and Hillary Smith (Polly Baker) star in Beef & Boards’ production of “Crazy for You”

Douglas E. Stark directs and Ron Morgan provides the dynamic choreography, propelling the multi-talented cast to a remarkable level. Leading the way is Blake Patrick Spellacy as Bobby Child, a young banker from a wealthy family whose real passion is to dance onstage. Rejected in his NY audition, Child is sent by his mother to Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on a theatre. There he meets the girl of his dreams, Polly Baker, played by Hillary Smith, whose family owns the failing theatre. Mr. Spellacy’s seemingly effortless dancing and singing styles may have been what triggered my youthful memories. He is a delight to watch, and his boyish approach to his role (a la Robert Morse, I thought) is just what is needed. Ms. Smith is a wonderful surprise as Polly – having seen her work in The Sound of Music (Liesl) and Church Basement Ladies (Beverly) here at Beef and Boards, I had no idea of the completeness of her talents for song and dance; not that she wasn’t good in those roles, it’s just that this role allows her to fill the stage with her artistry, and fill it she does! I truly hope this is the beginning of a long string of leading roles for this gifted young lady. (Here’s a fun-fact: Hillary is a second generation Polly, her mother having played the role at Civic Theatre in 1997.)

Blake Patrick Spellacy (Bobby Child) and Eddie Curry (Bela Zangler) share a delightful song in Beef & Boards' "Crazy for You"

Blake Patrick Spellacy (Bobby Child) and Eddie Curry (Bela Zangler) share a delightful song in Beef & Boards’ “Crazy for You”

There is lots to like in the supporting roles as well. Eddie Curry is his usual brilliant self as Bela Zangler – a NYC theatre impresario. His mirrored duet with Spellacy is a high point of the show. Jeff Stockberger provides laughs and even spends time as a straight man as Lank Hawkins, a Deadwood innkeeper, and Bob Payne, Erin Cohenour, Vickie Cornelius Phipps, John Vessels and Carol Worcell all fill their roles quite admirably. Outside of Spellacy and Ms. Smith, I’d have to say the hardest working people in this show business venture are the corps of dancers who are featured in most of the musical numbers – tapping, singing, beautifully costumed (great work again by Jill Kelly) – the epitome of which is the act one closer, “I Got Rhythm”, which is a breath-taking show stopper. (At intermission, I heard more than one person say they were out of breath after watching the spectacle.)

The brilliantly talented chorus swings through "Slap That Bass", one of many top-notch numbers in B&B's "Crazy for You"

The brilliantly talented chorus swings through “Slap That Bass”, one of many top-notch numbers in B&B’s “Crazy for You”

Last but never least is the wonderful musical support for the performances provided by the B&B Orchestra, led by the brilliant Terry Wood. They really do sound incredible, especially for being only six musicians!

All in all, Crazy for You is a toe-tapping, light-hearted, scintillating show that provides a great two-hour getaway from winter doldrums and spring anticipation. And included in the experience is the pleasing buffet provided by Chef Odell Ward, this time featuring Chicken Parmesan (loved it!)

Crazy for You continues through April 4th with shows at various times on Tuesday-Sunday. For a complete calendar of dates and times you can go to http://www.beefandboards.com or call the B&B Box Office at 317-872-9664.

* – Photos by Julie Curry

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