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Classic romantic comedy ‘Crazy For You’ comes to Theatre in the Park

Ramsey Self and Alex Gumminger finish a dance number during a dress rehearsal.
Ramsey Self and Alex Gumminger finish a dance number during a dress rehearsal. Photo provided

“Crazy For You,” a fast-paced romantic comedy set in the 1930s, features the classic theme of boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love; it’s an off-and-on romance with a happy ending.

“Crazy For You’ is truly one of the last of the ‘old fashioned’ song and dance musicals,” said Kevin Bogan, the show’s director. “With over 12 major production numbers, it is perhaps the most danceable musical ever…and takes the audience back to a simpler time when romance conquered everything.”

Songs by George and Ira Gershwin include such memorable tunes as “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “But Not For Me,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and more.

The show opened on Broadway in 1992 and ran for 1,622 performances, winning Tony Awards for best musical, best choreography and best costume design. “Crazy For You” opened Friday at The Theatre in the Park.

The plot follows Bobby Child, who is mired in the family banking business while his dream in life is dancing. His domineering mother sends him to Deadrock, Nev., to foreclose on the rundown Gaiety Theatre. Bobby’s glad to escape from the bank and his fiancé who is pressuring him to set a wedding date.

When Bobby arrives in Deadrock he meets Polly Baker, daughter of the Gaiety’s owner, Everett Baker. It’s love at first sight. But the romance goes on the rocks when Polly learns why Bobby’s there.

Rob Reeder, whose first appearance at The Theatre in the Park was in 1989 in “Hello Dolly” and “Westside Story,” has the lead role of Bobby Child.

“I thought I might be a little old to play Bobby Child but the director assured me I wasn’t. So here I am,” Reeder said with a laugh. “I like Bobby’s optimism. His goal is musical theater despite his mother’s insistence that he stay in the bank. Bobby had an unsuccessful audition with the Zangler Follies in New York but he won’t give up.”

Polly Baker is portrayed by Cara Hampton, who lives in Prairie Village. “ ‘Crazy For You’ was the only show I was interested in doing this year. It fit my schedule and I wanted to work with Kevin Bogan and his staff again,” Hampton said. “If I’m going to take time away from my family to do a show I really have like it.”

“I didn’t appreciate ‘Crazy For You’ when I auditioned as much as I do now. I’ve come to love it,” she said. “Gershwin music is beautiful. ‘Someone To Look Over Me’ and ‘But Not For Me’ are favorites and ‘I Got Rhythm’ is so exhilarating.”

Everett Baker, Polly’s father, is portrayed by Chip Buckner. “Everett’s an old guy who wants his daughter to be happy. He worries about who she falls in love with. Most of the advice I give her is wrong,” he said. “Polly’s a headstrong girl.”

Buckner has been in eight shows at The Theatre in the Park. Most recently he was in “The Secret Garden” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” His favorite tune in “Crazy For You” is “I Got Rhythm.” “It’s a terrific song,” said Buckner who lives in Overland Park.

Chad Burris, of Independence, plays Bela Zangler, owner of Zangler Follies. “I didn’t audition for a particular show but when this role came my way I was delighted,” Burris said. “When your character is boss of Zangler Follies you have to be pleased.”

“Crazy For You” plays tonight (Wednesday) and again Thursday, Friday and Saturday at The Theatre in the Park. Curtain time is 8:30 p.m. for all shows. Admission is $8 adults, $6 youths and children three and under free. For more information go to www.theatreinthepark.org.

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