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.