Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone
Producer Robert Eagle keeps the production values high for this show with Broadway costumes by William Ivey Long and the scenery by Robin Wagner. Kirby keeps the show in constant motion with rapid scene changes and not only blocks and directs the musical splendidly but also plays the huge role of Bobby Child. He handles the comic aspects of the show brilliantly especially the slapstick scenes with the fake western gun fights and falling down stairs. Dan taught the melodic score to his cast and he conducts an astounding 15 piece orchestra. Gershwin's music never sounded better. Eileen's dance numbers are breathtaking and excellently executed by this cast. Her dance numbers sparkle and shine from Fred and Ginger movements to the whole cast tap dancing in "I Got Rhythm" as well as Bobby's dances with the girls with Busby Berkley type movements and the fight scene when they tumble down off a second story onto the bar and onto the stage. "Stiff Upper Lip" is another show stopping tap number where they build a chair barricade with a red flag waving in the background ala "Les Miserables." Kirby is reminiscent of Fred Astaire. He never seems to stop dancing from his first entrance to the closing of the show. His first big tap dance, "I Can't Be Bothered Now" starts off on the top of a car where he is joined by many chorus girls clad in pink while his other number with the girls is "Nice Work" where he realizes he must return to Nevada and claim Polly again. His solo numbers include "Things Are Looking Up" when he falls in love with Polly and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" where he leaves Polly to return to New York. His most comic moments come when Bobby disguises himself as the famous producer, Zangler to get Polly to fall in love with him. Kirby is hilarious in "What Causes That?", the duet between the fake and real Zangler is a showstopper. I last reviewed Kirby as Herbie in "Gypsy" at NSMT in 2010. The real Bella Zangler is excellently portrayed by Matthew Zahnzinger with his haughty German accent and over the top acting as the madcap producer. In the song both men are dressed identically and perform mirror images of each other ala the Marx Brothers routine. Polly, the only girl living in Dead Eye, is fantastically portrayed by Kirby's real life wife, Beverly Ward. She is a triple threat performer. Beverly gives this girl a backbone to stand up to all the men in the town. However she also gets to show off her feminine side and Polly's sentiments in "Someone to Watch Over Me" as well as in "But Not for Me" which brings tears to your eyes. Beverly also dances up a storm with Kirby in "Shall We Dance" which is performed in front of a full moon backdrop and especially in the show stopping "I Got Rhythm" which she belts out to the crowd and leads the dancers in an energetic and breathtaking tap dance that left the audience cheering for more. Beverly is also at ease in the comic scenes especially in "Embraceable You" when she pursues Bobby when he's disguised as Bela. Brava on a magnificent performance. I last reviewed Beverly as Lily in "Annie" at Reagle back in 2008.
Not only are the dancers phenomenal in this show but the character acting is terrific, too. Leon Axt is a hoot as the loudmouth, dumb bartender, Lank. His overbearing and obnoxious behavior gets tamed by Bobby's ex-girlfriend, Irene played fabulously by Aimee Doherty. She is a bitch on wheels arguing with Bobby and Mrs. Child. She becomes a dominatrix in the hilarious song "Naughty Baby" as she sings it and hogties Lank at the same time, leaving the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter. She ropes her man and he ends up marrying her. Aimee also does a tango with the boys in this number. Lank's hick sidekicks, Sam, Mingo and Moose are well played by Kevin Patrick Martin, Andrew Purdy and Darrell Morris Jr.. Their comic harmonic singing of "Biding My Time" is priceless and slapping the bass during "Slap the Bass" are worth the price of admission. They also sing "The Real American Folk Song is Rag" and they are like hillbilly three stooges.
Polly's sweet father, Everett Baker is wonderfully played by Mark Nichols while Bobby's bitchy mother, Lottie Child is excellently played by Susan Scannell Gilbert who runs roughshod over Bobby, Irene and everyone else but ends up falling in love with Everett who finally tames her. The head chorine, Tess is played wonderfully by Rachel Abbate. Tess helps Bobby with his schemes, helps him put the show on in the west and finally tames the roving eye of the womanizer, the real Bela. The other head chorus girl, Patsy is perfectly played by gorgeous blonde, Anna Chesney. Her Patsy is a dumb blonde character that is hilarious with all of her crazy antics. So for a fabulous Broadway type production close to Boston, be sure to catch "Crazy For You" at Reagle Music Theatre. Just tell them Tony sent you because he is CRAZY for it right here in Waltham, MA.