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Crazy for You is one of my favourite shows, and overall this was a good version.  Sam Gaines in his first directorial role for HLOS, his home society, with Beth and Fleur got a good production together.

The set was well-managed, it was good to see the flow from scene to scene with hardly any blackouts, which pleased me immensely – as it meant the whole show flowed well, and there were no breaks in audience involvement – we were kept within the feel of the show throughout.

Lighting throughout was first-rate, there were some very good and imaginative effects, which enhanced the atmosphere.

Costumes were mostly suitable – there were a few that didn’t quite gel with the others and it would have been nice to have seen a little more colour in some of the ladies costumes, as it would have matched the upbeat mood of the piece.  

There were a few dodgy wigs, something to look at for the future.  I know the two Zangler wigs had to be very stylised, and were probably hired as such, but they were very wig-like, it would have been nice to have seen something a little more life-like, particularly as both Pete and Carl did such a good job.  

Sound was good, after a small blip at the start of the show, when the sound balance wasn’t all it should have been.  No mean feat in the Public Halls to keep the balance between the cast and band so on key for the rest of the show.  

Musically, it was an excellent show.  Beth Thomas had a superb band, and there were some great harmonies from the cast.  The music was given a slightly swing-style, which is Beth’s forte, which suited the score very well, and made it seem fresh and alive.  The overture was a pleasure to listen to.

Choreographically I would have liked to have seen more grouping and not so many straight lines, but the content was good, and mostly suitable for the cast.  

I really liked what Pete Town did with Bobby – he had all the swagger needed for a young man in his situation, and sang the part extremely well.  He also showed how hard he’d worked to get the dance element to a good level.  I was impressed and liked Bobby very much.  There were some super-quick changes, but they all worked well, and the Zangler beard and moustache stayed very firmly in place, which was great!

I thought Carl Robinson gave us a fine Zangler – he got the feel of the guy, and lots of light and shade in his lib.  It was good to see Carl in a role that he was able to shine in.

Sarah Johnson, in her first role for HLOS, was a charming Polly, with a very nice voice.  However, I felt Sarah was a little young for the role, but I liked her rendition of Embraceable You with Bobby, and also But Not for Me – she got the feel of the music and the words well.

Sarah Nasmyth-Miller did well as Irene – particularly once she set her sights at Lank – her song Naughty Baby was good – her dialogue was a little too precise at times, but plenty of expression and meaning.  Well done.

Lank was nicely played by Steve Hathaway, in his first performance for HLOS.  He got the slight menace of Lank, when he wanted to buy the theatre, and his astonishment at Irene’s advances – a good portrayal.

I was pleased to note all the gunshots  appeared to go off at the right time, and the fight in Act 2 was very well arranged – it looked good, was exciting and everyone ‘died’ very nicely!!  Liked the staggering round of Howard Penning, looking as if he was going to go off the front of the stage, nicely accomplished.

Mandy Gaines was a super Mrs Child – she looked good and gave the part such meaning in her disdain of Irene, and also Bobby, but that is the sort of part that Mandy does so well.

Holly Martin-Smith was a very upbeat Tess, I liked the way she played the part, and also danced it.  Dana Hudson was the slightly dim Patsy – again a good characterisation.

Jonathan Field took on the part of Everett, Polly’s father, and did it with his usual accomplishment.  You could understand his love for his daughter and the theatre where his wife performed.  

Louise Thonger and Stephanie Gimblett were the rather posh Fodor sisters, supposedly writing a travel book.  They interacted well, and gave us strong characters, with plenty of expression.

The cowboy trio worked well, very diverse persona’s, both in height and style – John Hope, Andrew Darby and Roger Monson all gave lots of enthusiasm to their music, and made it fun.  In fact I was very impressed with all the men’s chorus!  Very well done all of you.

The ladies always look as if they are enjoying themselves, and this was no exception.

I liked the dancers – Gill Pigram, Kay Ward, Claire Millins and Fleur Baikie, alongside Dana and Holly, however for some reason the dance who made the most impression on me was Abi Bedford – possibly because of her cheekiness!  These ladies all looked good together and the dance numbers were mostly effective.

I loved the Bobby/Zangler drinking scene – very good indeed, it worked so well, and was very funny.  It is difficult to do, but Carl and Pete worked well together and got the utmost humour out of it.  Staged slightly differently to normal – good thinking Sam.

So, all in all a good show, plenty of zest from the cast, who very obviously enjoyed what they were doing and the show in general, with some good directorial decisions – plenty of humour, some drama, and super sounding band and musical numbers.

Harpenden Light Opera Society

CRAZY FOR YOU review date: 26th March 2014

at Harpenden Public Halls

Director: Sam Gaines

MD: Beth Thomas

Choreographer: Fleur Baikie  


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