“Crazy For You” Dazzles Audience

Photo+credit+to+Klaus+Kocher
Photo credit to Klaus Kocher

Photo credit to Klaus Kocher

Photo credit to Klaus Kocher

Willow Walden

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Gallery photo credit: Klaus Kocher

 

 

Friday, March 2, the night that I first witnessed the Glenwood Springs High School (GSHS) Theater program’s newest musical performance, Crazy For You, was a night of not one but two miracles. The first miracle was that I actually allowed myself to be driven back to my school campus on a Friday night in order to see the production in the first place. The second was the mind-blowing energy and passion I saw these drama students bring to the stage. These are people I walk past in the halls every day, and yet, after the first musical number, they were all transformed into perfect strangers. That night I was introduced to Polly Baker, Billy Child, Bela Zangler, Irene Roth, and countless other men and women that I had just met but was dying to get to know.

     The show’s plot is a throwback to Broadway musicals of the 1920s and ’30s, from the classical slapstick comedy to cases of mistaken identity, and, of course, to it’s spontaneous tap-dance numbers and let’s-put-on-a-show-and-save-our-theater storyline. The cast did an excellent job of harnessing that nostalgia and still finding a way to make the program feel new, shiny and exciting. Noah Rowe-Gaddis plays Bobby Child, a bored banker with a passion for dance and the theatrical stage. When he’s not quarreling with his iron-willed mother (Erica Messender), or overbearing fiance Irene Roth (Bailey Larsen), Child spends his time attempting to audition to join “Zangler’s Follies” review, lead by the eccentric Bela Zangler (Eli Pettit) and a talented crew of chorus girls. When sent to foreclose on a theater in Nevada, Bobby meets his match in a tenacious Westerner, Polly Baker, played by Cadie Harrison.

    

photo credit:  Klaus Kocher (above), Annie Uyehara

      Senior Noah Rowe-Gladdis handled the choreography with incredible ease and confidence, his young age adding a sort of youthful energy to his character’s already charismatic nature, especially during the number “I Can’t Be Bothered Now,” a personal favorite.

     I also appreciated choreographers Cadie Harrison and Sophie Carnoali’s use of props and setting in the production’s dance numbers, such as swinging the chorus girls about on pickaxes, and the tin sheets, pots and pans used by Nevada’s crew of cowboys to create a percussion chorus during the musical number “Who Could Ask For Anything More.”  I think that it was the “minor” characters such as the cowboys and chorus girls, not to mention the comic relief provided by characters Bela Zangler and Lank Hawkins (Eli Pettet and Tyler Dietrich), that tied this whole production together. The teamwork and skill between the cowboys and chorus girls was so apparent and terrific, and the choreography was mind-blowing, overflowing with crazy stunts and tricks. Characters Bela Zangler, Lank Hawkins, and Irene Roth were clear audience favorites, and the confidence it must have taken to bring such life and flamboyance to their characters was incredible.

     The people behind the scenes working in costumes and set are arguably just as crucial to the impact the production makes on the audience as the characters themselves. The actors make the story, but it’s the people behind the curtain that have the responsibility to create the whole world that the story revolves around. The set and costume crews did not fall short of this responsibility in any way. A personal favorite was the ever-shifting costume assembly of the crew of showgirls, particularly the vibrant silk dresses they sported during the musical number Entrance to Nevada (below). A major part of the storyline was the life and energy the theater industry brought to the lazy midwestern town of Deadrock, Nevada, and this was brilliantly illustrated by the color and elegance that these dancers spread about the set whenever they were present.

 (photo credit: Annie Uyehara)

And that very idea- of theater bringing life, energy, and purpose into people’s lives – is what I think created such a strong connection between the actors and their characters during this production. Their ability to empathize with and relate to their characters with such intensity became so contagious that it was impossible for even the audience members to not somehow see themselves in the lives playing out on stage. From the very first musical number, it was clear that these GSHS students were possessed with the same dedication and passion for the stage that drove Billy Child to revive the theater in Deadrock, Nevada.

   

(photo credit: Annie Uyehara)

 

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