BREAKING: WaterTower Theatre announces 2013-14 season

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Terry Martin

Terry Martin, the producing artistic director for WaterTower Theatre, announced his theater’s upcoming season tonight, which includes the return of the (often very gay) Out of the Loop Fringe Festival as well as five mainstage productions.

Among the shows are a musical about a country music pioneer, a screwball comedy and several regional premieres, some by gay playwrights.

WTT’s next production, Black Tie (directed by Rene Moreno), opens May 31; the final show of the company’s 2012-13 season will be Xanadu.

Here’s the full lineup for 2013-14:

Hank Williams: Lost Highway (Oct. 11–Nov.3). This jukebox musical features the songs of the C&W legend, who died on New Year’s Day 1953 at the age of 29.

The Game’s Afoot (Holmes for the Holidays) (Dec. 13–Jan. 5, 2014). Ken Ludwig, the Tony-nominated author of Lend Me a Tenor and Crazy for You, wrote this regional premiere, a farce about actor William Gillette — famed for his performances as Sherliock Holmes — solving a real crime.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Jan. 24–Feb. 12, 2014). Another regional premiere, adapted from Mark Twain’s classic novel about the mischievous teenager involved in murder and intrigue.

Out of the Loop Fringe Festival (Mar. 6–16, 2014). The return of the annual celebration of unique theater. No lineup will be announced until next year, but the content usually runs toward racier, edgy productions.

Spunk (Apr. 11–May 4, 2014). Gay director and author George C. Wolfe — probably best known for mounting the original Broadway production of Angels in America, as well as the recent revival of The Normal Heart — wrote this play, adapted from short stories by celebrated African-American author Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God).

Good People (June 6–29, 2014). Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) wrote this comic and insightful character study about old friends and new lives.

Dogfight: A New Musical (July 25–Aug. 17, 2014). Based on the 1991 film, this regional premiere musical, co-written by openly gay composer/lyricist Benj Pasek, is set on the eve of the Kennedy assassination, where a man tries to win a contest by bringing the ugliest girl to a party.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Crazy for You’

There’s nothing like a tuneful Gershwin musical, and Crazy for You, now at Theatre 3, is indeed nothing like one (at least not at the weekend preview I attended). The orchestrations are muffled and fail to emphasize the right instruments; some songs, like “Embraceable You,” are paced too slowly while others, such as “Someone to Watch Over Me,” are rushed. The production feels way too much like the “Hey gang, let’s put on a show in the barn” musical that its plot entails.

The plot, reworked by playwright Ken Ludwig after the cheesy 1920s script for Girl Crazy, involves an aspiring Broadway dancer, Bobby Child (Sam Beasley), roped into a corporate job for his mother’s bank. Work takes him to a podunk town in Nevada (which everyone in the cast mispronounces “Ne-VAH-da”), where Bobby promptly falls for the only girl in town, Polly Baker (Emily Lockhart, condemned to perform the entire show under a frightful red wig that looks like it hasn’t been combed out since Lucille Ball had a hit TV series). He impersonates famed impresario Bela Zangler (Brian Hathaway), whom Polly promptly falls for, while … Oh, you know how it goes. No surprises here.

None, in fact. Aside from some clever choreography and a might-as-well-give-it-my-best turn by Hathaway, the show lacks any kind of spark. Largely that falls in the lap of Beasley, who has zero chemistry with Lockhart or any other women onstage. There’s a line between  joyous energy and hysterical flamboyance, and it’s not even that thin; Beasley sets up camp on the flamboyant side like a Sooner staking a claim on 40 acres. It’s such a prissy, bland performance (he’s about as sexually charismatic as Ben Stein) that the entire premise falls flat, much like his singing. Considering how many Gershwin jukebox musicals are out there — from An American in Paris to My One and Only to the current Broadway show Nice Work If You Can Get It — you can wait until something better comes along.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones