A complete guide to all the Gershwin songs in 'Crazy For You'
Learn more about the timeless musical numbers in the show, such as "I Got Rhythm," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Embraceable You," and "Shall We Dance?"
It’s nice work if you can get it! The glorious George Gershwin musical Crazy For You is coming into the West End this summer, in a hit revival from Broadway legend Susan Stroman which began at Chichester Festival Theatre last year. The 1992 Tony-winning show features a book by Ken Ludwig and cleverly repurposes songs by George Gershwin and his brother Ira in a new musical — and you can catch it soon at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre.
The kooky 1930s-set plot follows dance-mad Bobby Child, who flunks his audition for impresario Bela Zangler (read: Florenz Ziegfeld), and whose determined mother wants Bobby to take over the family banking business. As part of that work, he’s sent to the small town of Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a theatre. Instead, he falls for Polly Baker, whose father owns the theatre, so he disguises himself as Zangler and puts on a show to save it.
Really, it’s all an excuse to indulge in the utterly glorious Gershwin songs (taken from previous Gershwin musicals), wonderfully staged by Stroman, and starring Charlie Stemp, Carly Anderson and Tom Edden. So, slap that bass, and indulge in the lush romanticism of “Someone to Watch Over Me” or the fleet-footed joy of “I Got Rhythm”. Who could ask for anything more?
Book Crazy For You tickets on London Theatre.
“K-ra-zy for You”
The bouncy title number is our introduction to Bobby Child — who loves theatre and who dreams of dancing on stage. Unfortunately, his eager audition performance of this song ends in disaster when he lands on Bela Zangler’s foot.
“I Can’t Be Bothered Now”
After arguing with his wealthy fiancée and mother about his future, Bobby dreams of dancing with the Follies Girls in this upbeat fantasy sequence: “I’m dancing and I can’t be bothered now”. Mainly a vehicle for fab Follies-esque tap, it also spurs his character on to leave New York for Nevada in order to escape his mother.
“Bidin’ My Time”
Deadrock is a former gold mining town — now pretty much a wasteland. We get a big change of pace musically to demonstrate that: “Bidin’ My Time” is a slow, sighing drawl of a song, sung by the drowsy cowboys. Ira Gershwin’s lyrics also establish a sense of place by dropping all the ‘g’s: we get not just bidin’ but nappin’, regrettin’, and settin’.
“Things Are Looking Up”
Enter Bobby — who immediately falls for local gal Polly. This chipper little number expresses that excited, puppyish love brilliantly. The whole world seems transformed during the song because of how he feels about her.
“Someone to Watch Over Me”
Polly might seem like a tough cookie, but she definitely has a softer side. This exquisite, yearning song unfolds her dream of finding that perfect partner: not necessarily someone flashy or handsome, but a kind soul who she can rely on. Bobby doesn’t fit the bill at this stage of the plot — but he might get there by the end.
“Could You Use Me?”
Bobby and Polly spar in this teasing, opposites-attract song, in which he attempts to woo her, and she points out the clear differences between them. But even though they’re outwardly at odds, the song’s patter also binds them together — so we start rooting for them.
“Shall We Dance?”
No, not a cameo from The King and I. This version of the invite is Bobby’s philosophy in a nutshell: “Dance whenever you can”. It’s another fun number, but it shows his flippancy at this point in the story.
“Slap That Bass”
This fantastic Gershwin number is a love letter to the popular slap style of double bass playing. It’s also a key moment in the story: the Follies Girls have arrived in Deadrock, and are helping Bobby to mount a show. But they need to get the cowboys dancing. “Slap That Bass” helps them to discover their rhythm — plus a new lease of life.
The farce elements of the plots are heating up: Irene, Bobby’s fiancée, has pitched up in Deadrock, and meanwhile Polly has fallen for Zangler — or rather, Bobby disguised as Zangler. Oops. Polly expresses her feelings in another beautiful song, similarly soaring, but this time with more smoulder and abandon. “Just one look at you, my heart grew tipsy in me.”
“Tonight’s the Night”
A very theatre-luvvie song, this one: basically just the company excited about their opening night. Unfortunately, their only audience is a pair of British tourists — a great comic contrast with this giddy anticipation.
“I Got Rhythm”
Ah well – at least doing the show revitalises the town and brings everyone together. Led by a loved-up Polly (“I got my man — who could ask for anything more?”), it’s a fabulous tribute to music, to community, and to romance. What could go wrong? Well, with the real Zangler arriving, quite a lot… Come back after the interval!
“What Causes That?”
Act Two begins with Polly discovering that Bobby has been lying to her and impersonating Zangler. Bobby (still disguised as the impresario) drowns his sorrows along with the real Zangler in this hilarious drunken double act.
The show tidies up some romantic complications by having Irene, Bobby’s rejected fiancée, seduce his rival for Polly’s affections, saloon owner Lank, in this amusingly vampy number. It’s a striking contrast with Polly’s more innocent and deeply felt love songs; as Irene drawls, she’s “not that kind of girl”.
“Stiff Upper Lip”
After the show’s failed opening, the townsfolk call a big meeting to express why they should cancel future performances. But the visiting tourists rouse them with this spoof of British resolve, which, as a special treat for musical geeks, includes a spoof of the Les Misérables barricade march. Do you hear the people sing?
“They Can’t Take That Away From Me”
Bobby’s development is beautifully demonstrated by this gentle, sincere song, in which he pledges his eternal love to Polly — even if he does have to leave for New York. Musically, it’s a match for her numbers, showing that they’re now right for one another, and making Polly’s subsequent change of heart feel authentic.
“But Not For Me”
Has Polly realised her feelings for Bobby too late? In this aching ballad, she fears so: “They’re writing songs of love, but not for me.” Something of a wry meta-joke there; Polly’s definitely had her share of love songs in this show. And surely she’s wrong to think that the “climax of the plot” won’t end with a “marriage knot”?
“Nice Work if You Can Get It”
Bobby is back in New York, working at his mother’s bank, when she gifts him Zangler’s theatre. The real Zangler has stayed in Deadrock to put on the show. Once again, Bobby sings with the Follies Girls – but this time, he realises his dream isn’t to be a star — it’s to be with Polly. The number cleverly moves him from one (the razzmatazz Follies form) to another (the lovelorn lyrics).
In a joyful mash-up of several numbers, including “Embraceable You,” “K-ra-zy for You,” and “I Got Rhythm,” Polly, Bobby, and the whole company celebrate. Everyone’s happily paired up, the town and its theatre are thriving, and we’ve got Gershwin songs to sing. “Who could ask for anything more?”
Photo credit: Crazy For You (Photo courtesy of production)
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