Review by Tatum Stafford
In such a tumultuous year, I’m sure many theatregoers would agree that they are searching for escapism. To sit in a darkened theatre for a few hours, hear some toe-tapping songs, and enjoy a visual feast of sparkling costumes and sets. ‘Crazy for You’, performed by WAAPA’s 2nd and 3rd year Music Theatre students, certainly delivered on this promise.
The show tells the tale of feisty Polly Baker (Chloe Malek), who is charmed by Chicago native Bobby Child (James MacAlpine) until she learns of his true intentions to buy and demolish the old theatre in her home town. The plot thickens when Bobby returns to town pretending to be Bela Zangler (played by Kyle Hall), and promises to put on a show, with help from his follies, that will save the theatre for good.
In many ways, the star of this show is its production value. There were more lavish dance numbers than you could count on one hand, opulent costumes, and a beautiful sounding orchestra featuring local and visiting talent. The whole show seemed a dream sequence, with gorgeous Gershwin melodies punctuating each scene change, and lovely ballet passages choreographed by Jayne Smeulders.
The show was also incredibly well-directed by Crispin Taylor, with a seamless flow and some inspired choices when it came to staging and ensuring each character was given space to share their story.
James MacAlpine was technically strong, infusing charm and cheekiness into Bobby, particularly in one of the show’s opening numbers, ‘I Can’t Be Bothered Now’, in which he showcased his fantastic aptitude for tapping. Chloe Malek flexed her triple threat muscles with her gorgeous dancing and a lilting voice that carried some of the show’s most famous tunes, including ‘But Not For Me’ and ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’. Malek’s Southern accent seeped into each of her solo songs quite heavily, which made some lyrics difficult to understand, but her committed acting chops helped convey Polly’s motivations clearly.
The supporting cast were stand-outs, with Kyle Hall’s Zangler and Amber Scates’ Irene Roth impossible to tear your eyes away from. Emily Svarnias was a riot as Billy’s Mother, and supporting follies Juno Sertorio (Tess), Brittany Morton (Patsy) and Anita Karabajakian (Mitzi) infused playfulness and joy into their featured sections in chorus numbers and scenes.
The redneck trio of Moose, Mingo and Sam (Samuel Moloney, Kyle Colburn and Sammy Allsop) were very amusing to watch, and the duo of Patricia and Eugene Fodor (Paige Fallu and Lachlan Obst) had a lively cameo towards the end of Act 1 before leading a fantastic ensemble number, ‘Stiff Upper Lip’, during Act 2.
Though the premise of this show is a simple one, the students should be congratulated on the poise and confidence in which they presented it. The WAAPA mid-year musical is always a highlight on the Perth theatre calendar, and I am hopeful that this year’s move from the Regal to His Majesty’s Theatre will continue WAAPA’s run of feel-good musical theatre accessible to plenty of Perth theatre fans.