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Posted on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

You'll be crazy about University of Michigan's 'Crazy For You'

By Jenn McKee


L'ogan J'ones and Mary Little star in U-M's production of "Crazy for You."

Photo by Peter Smith Photography

At one point in the University of Michigan department of musical theatre production of “Crazy For You,” lead actor L’ogan J’ones drunkenly stumbles down to a staircase’s landing and slams into a wall.

On opening night, J’ones’ body landed with such force that that entire portion of the set, mounted on a scenery wagon, rolled apart from the rest. “Safe!” J’ones proclaimed, spreading his arms ump-style (and thus garnering applause).

Indeed, several tiny technical glitches arose during Thursday’s performance; yet the three-hour show is so packed with humor, irresistible Gershwin songs, and eye-popping dance numbers that the technical hiccups were forgotten as quickly as they occurred.

Partly inspired by the Gershwin brothers’ 1930 show “Girl Crazy,” “Crazy for You” - which premiered on Broadway in 1992, and features a book by Ken Ludwig - tells the story of Bobby Child (J’ones), a Harvard-educated banker who really wants to be a dancer. The bank is the family business, however, so Bobby’s mother (Erika Peterson) sends Bobby away from the New York theaters (and his feisty fiancee Irene, played by Stephanie Styles) to Deadrock, Nevada in order to foreclose a rundown theater.

Yet once Bobby arrives, he falls in love with the theater owner’s daughter, Polly (Mary Little), and calls upon his vacationing friends, a company of dancing girls, to put together a fundraiser show for the theater. The problem is, the local cowboys can’t dance, and the show has no audience - leaving Bobby and the theater at a crossroads.

There are loads of great performances on the Power Center stage during the “Crazy for You,” but what primarily showcases them is Susan Stroman’s masterful choreography, recreated for U-M’s production by Shari Jordan. (Ron De Jesus contributed additional choreography.) The dancing is an absolute joy to watch - an early indicator is the splashily fun “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” - and the imaginative integration of props in numbers like “Slap That Bass,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Stiff Upper Lip” just amps up the gaiety.

It likely won’t surprise you to learn that J’ones is one terrific hoofer, and he anchors the show with confidence and poise. Little, meanwhile, sings and dances beautifully, too, while establishing Polly as a funny, sassy, tough-girl foil. The ultra-feminine Follies Girls make every scene they’re in more lively, and the golden-throated cowboys - well, you may have guessed that after some practice, they actually get pretty darn good at that dancing stuff.

“Crazy” is a long show with a ton of numbers (in several locales, nicely imagined by set designer Bruce Brockman); and although it threatens to get bogged down at times, director Linda Goodrich keeps the show moving at a good clip, with music director Catherine Walker Adams working in tandem (and leading a strong orchestra). Costume designer George Bacon does terrific work, injecting color into the show, but muting the palette in keeping with the Old West setting. (Dawn Rivard designed the wigs and makeup.) Lighting designer Andrew Lott and sound designer Michael Eisenberg also contribute to the show’s overall atmosphere.

Given the particularly horrible stream of news this week - including gunshots fired in Watertown, Massachusetts as I write this review - I found the show's cornball humor (and a couple of pokes at “Les Miserables”), familiar songs and impeccably synchronized production numbers a refreshing antidote. “Crazy for You” adheres to the old fashioned notion of musical theater being entertainment for entertainment’s sake; and when the direction and performers are this fabulous, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to escape reality for a few hours?

"Crazy For You" continues through Sunday. For more information, see the preview article. Tickets are available online.

Jenn McKee is an entertainment reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.



Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

We went on Saturday night. I don't like musicals. I didn't like last year's (?) Chicago. I DID enjoy this.


Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

David notes: "I'm guessing it's sold out, but if you can find a ticket, do go." The SMTD box office site shows a couple of dozen seats for tomorrow at 2:00 PM. I can't tell for tonight, since the site no longer sells tickets online after mid-afternoon, so there may be some still available from the box office, which opens at 7:00 PM. (There were 20 or so available in the balcony earlier today.) But even for tonight, no one who wants to see this splendid show should be deterred, since almost always there are a few tickets available at the Power Center box office shortly before curtain, from returns, student comps not collected from the "will call" window, a few house seats that get released, after 7:00, etc. And it is a marvelous performance.


Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

Last year we saw Nice Work if You Can Get it on Broadway, featuring Matthew Broderick. It was another Gershwin music based show with a corny story line. 'Entertainment for entertainment's sake' as Jenn McKee's review describes puts it. It"Nice Work" is still running and, I understand, doing very well. Last night's performance of Crazy for You was, for me at least, even better. The Gershwin music, of course, mtakes care of the music end of thing- -although marvellously played and sung by the Musical Theater gang. What made this production so winning for me was the energy and humor exhibited throughout- -especially, VERY especially, the dancing. I'm guessing it's sold out, but if you can find a ticket, do go.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

These young college performers are amazing! We have had season tickets for a long time---and we are always amazed at each and every show. This show is so much fun! The entire audience jumped to their feet at the end of the show! Go see it.