Crazy For You: Gershwin Tunes Sparkle in Spring Production
Memorable tunes by George and Ira Gershwin light up the stage in "Crazy for You," the spring production at Pinecrest High School being presented March 2022 in the Robert E. Lee Auditorium.
When the show first appeared on Broadway in 1992 it was billed as "the New Gershwin musical comedy," and was largely based on the songwriting team's 1930 production, "Girl Crazy." The newer version interpolates songs from several other productions as well, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
With a book by Ken Ludwig, master of hilarious dialogue, "Crazy for You" is the story of Bobby Child, a well-to-do 1930s playboy. Bobby's dream in life is to dance, and despite the serious efforts of his mother and soon-to-be-ex-fiancee, he achieves his ambition. Part of this takes place in a Wild West setting, where he also finds his true love.
"It's a great show, because it takes the classic Gershwin numbers and in some cases gives them an updated 'spin' or twist," says Adam Faw, the artistic and technical director of Pinecrest's theater department. "We chose it because we wanted a show slightly smaller in size in terms of production values than last year's 'Beauty and the Beast.' Two of the reasons we picked 'Crazy for You' were that it afforded our students with a heightened emphasis on dance and gave us a chance to work with the outstanding Gershwin melodies and lyrics."
James Brown, director of choral studies at Pinecrest, and the conductor of the 20-piece orchestra accompanying the production, enjoys a Gershwin tune.
"It's always a pleasure to be performing Gershwin," he says. "I have a special place in my heart for the tunes of the Gershwins. And it's wonderful that we have students in our program that are capable of performing this body of music."
The playlist of classics includes "I Got Rhythm," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "Nice Work If You Can Get It" and "Bidin' My Time." The ever-popular "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Embraceable You" are featured in the show, as well.
Brown explains that both he and Faw wanted to select a show that was from the "Golden Era" of musicals.
"In choosing it, we believe that it speaks to a larger population of the community -- one that we don't ordinarily attract, such as the symphony-goers and the retirees," Brown says. "We feel that it is a good way to demonstrate the quality of the theater and music programs at Pinecrest."
The trio responsible for Pinecrest's professional-like presentation is rounded out by the director of choreography, Gary Taylor.
Taylor is recognized throughout the Southeast for his mastery of innovative choreography, instruction and performance. A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, he has served on the faculty of several prestigious dance academies and universities and has even conducted master classes for Cirque du Soleil's world-renowned cast of the touring show, "Delirium."
He is presently the artistic director and resident choreographer for the High Point Ballet, Taylor Dance and Moore OnStage, and recently developed the Winston-Salem Festival Ballet, a professional performance-based company premiering later this year.
Faw, a graduate of Appalachian State University, has been on the faculty at Pinecrest for six years, directing the spring musical productions and teaching theater. He is also technical director for the Robert E. Lee auditorium at Pinecrest, overseeing production for groups such as the North Carolina Symphony, the Moore County Choral Society and the Golf Capital Chorus.
Holding a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in choral conducting from the University of Akron (Ohio), James Brown has conducted choral groups in Switzerland and Italy during his studies, and has also sung with civic opera companies and has performed as a soloist in major sacred works.
Brown has led his Pinecrest Chamber Ensemble and Sotte Voce choral group in award-winning competitions throughout the United States during his five years on the faculty at Pinecrest.
Under their experienced direction, and with a cast of 40, this production has all the earmarks of a local hit. Although Faw admits the plot of "Crazy for You" is somewhat farfetched, it is reminiscent of the era it is portraying, and has a lot of humor.
"We do comedy very well here at Pinecrest," Faw says. "From the beginning in the theater classes, comedy is stressed as well as drama, and I am very comfortable directing the over-the-top stereotypical slant of many Broadway musicals."
Bradley Gibson, The Beast in last year's production of "Beauty and the Beast," has shed his tons of makeup and his menacing character to take on the role of Bobby. "Bitten" by the theater bug when he made his stage debut in third grade, he added to his theatrical skills through appearances in the Art Council's shows for children, and then progressed to being cast in several community theater musicals.
All the while Gibson took dance lessons and worked on developing his vocal abilities. His part in "Crazy for You" requires a lot of tap dancing, which is a perfect fit for him, given his tap classes.
According to Adam Faw, the female lead, Polly, has never appeared in any of the school's spring musicals.
"Rachel Stewart has sung in Mr. Brown's choral ensemble, however, and as an immediate past title holder of the Miss Moore County Outstanding Teen competition, she has definite stage presence," Faw says.
Another newcomer to Pinecrest's spring musical stage is Matthew Carriker, who plays a saloon owner with slightly villainous tendencies, and the Broadway producer and theater owner, Zangler, is Brenton O'Hara, who had the role of Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast." Jennifer Archer is Bobby's ex-fiancee, Irene, and Bobby's mother is played by Emily Kline.
"Destiny Kinser, who's cast as the show's dance director, is appearing in her third Pinecrest production," Faw says. "Several of the 20 students playing showgirls have studied at either Taylor Dance or Terpsichore, which is very helpful since a couple of the tap numbers are quite difficult."
Faw also mentions that Gary Taylor is assisted by Trisha Coates, and Elizabeth Fowle is his dance captain.
"It's been incredible working with Gary and his team," Faw says. "They have really stepped up the quality of the dancing."
Supplementing the student involvement, Faw and his technical crew have designed the lights, and will run them during performances. Sound design and costuming are handled by David Godsey of Fayetteville's Extra Mile Audio and Mary McKeithen and Marci Haberstroh of Showboat Costumes, respectively.
Performances of "Crazy for You" are Friday and Saturday evenings, March 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 22.
Tickets are available at the Arts Council at the Campbell House and at the door. There is no reserved seating. General admission ticket prices are $12, with $10 tickets for students under 12.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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