This review of Crazy for you was published in The Student Advertiser, April 2015
Entering the Kings Theatre it’s hard to believe that an amateur operatic society have managed to snag such a spectacular venue to showcase their hard work. I mean, no pressure to The Glasgow Lyric Club, but the smash hit musical ‘Wicked’ sold out here last year and Alexandria Burke’s term starring in ‘The Bodyguard’ ended just four days before the ‘Crazy For You’ opening night. Therefore, I think congratulations are in order for the talented cast who were not ‘crazy’ for thinking they could pull of such a venue. They lit up the stage like a rocket!
Two flights of stairs and one tight squeeze down the aisle later, 11 of us excited students excused and thanked two elderly ladies as they stood up to allow us into our seats, one floor down from the nosebleeds. Only upon removal of my jacket did I find time to actually take in my surroundings: for those of you who have ever been to see a show in The Kings, you’ll probably remember the lack of legroom more than the plot of the show you watched. That saying, it is the high, majestic ceilings that astound the most – all of which are detailed with intricate, romantic carvings where each spiral has been carefully painted terracotta to match the carpets. You can almost feel the presence of thousands of people who have watched performances in these seats years before us. And so, I am girdled with both excitement and apprehension over whether The Glasgow Lyric can provide a filling between these hallowed walls.
By making use of the original rouge stage drapes, a colourful and well-designed set is concealed from the audience prior to the show and during the interval. The secrecy of it all maximises anticipation across the entire room and grasps the attention of all who are watching from the very first beat.
The plot of the show is a classic tale of boy meets girl set between New York – where in the 1930s a vibrant show scene is emerging – and the aptly-named Deadrock, Nevada, where nothing has ever happened – until now! Bobby Child a banker (played by John McGlone), sets out for Deadrock to repossess their local theatre, but he is unquestionably charmed by the theatre owner’s daughter, Polly Baker (Catherine Mackenzie), who has other ideas after uncovering his intentions for her family’s Gaiety Theatre. Desperate for her affections, Bobby disguises himself – remarkably well – as the famous producer Bela Zangler to convince the local cowboys and girls to take part in a show and help him raise money save the Deadrock Gaiety – hooray! However, all turns sour when the real Bela Zangler (played by Jonathan Procter) turns up in Deadrock to pursue his girlfriend Tess. Filled with various sequenced outfits, gun-shots and laughs a-plenty – not to mention toe-tapping numbers such as ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘Embraceable You’ – this country western show was a crowd pleaser and seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by all who watched.
The leading lady, Catherine Mackenzie, stunningly portrays the role of Polly Baker with her sweet mezzo tones. Previously having been played by the likes of Judy Garland, Mackenzie balances the role’s infamous tough-lady humour with mind numbing vocals, leaving the audience awestruck every time she leaves the stage. As for our leading male, John McGlone, it is difficult to not be aware of his presence on stage with impressive dance routines popping up in numbers throughout. Demonstrating everything from tap to paired ballroom dancing, McGlone lets the role of Bobby enchant the audience with his two feet alone – the witty humour which follows is merely a bonus!
One of the highlights of the show has to be the intoxicated bar scene between Bobby, still acting as the producer, and the real Bela Zangler. Despite this being a silent scene – deserted by any kind of audio, and in contrast to the sing-and-dance sequence prior to it – the actors complete a series of mirror sequences without so much as a chuckle. The idea of the scene is that both men are so lost amid their personal affairs that they do not realise the person causing their problems is actually before them. Accurately, they go through a typical hangover routine completely mirroring their opposite. This included: scoffing a sandwich, pulling down of the cheeks to assess bloodshot eyes, crossing over of the legs, running back to check on said “reflection”, and of course, the pouring of more alcohol (-the best way to avoid a hangover is to keep drinking, so they say…). This good old comedy scene was just what the audience ordered, and thus, earned Bela Zangler (Jonathan Procter) an extra special and well-deserved cheer during the final bows alongside the two sparkling leads, John and Catherine.
Given that the Lyric Club is a large amateur society consisting of individuals who pursue their acting passions alongside other careers, you’d be forgiven for expecting ‘Crazy’ to be merely a reasonably well-done production and prepared for some mistakes (forgotten lines, missed cues…). However, I can assure you that while there were minor – and I mean minor – costume hazards and the odd gunshot going off too quickly, the entire production was as good as it would be in the West End of London, and the cast really did fill The Kings at this well attended event.
It really does go to show that amateur dramatics is accessible by all who wish to pursue it and keep their day-job. With many societies offering the chance to perform in nationally recognised venues, such as The Kings, the annual member fee is a small price to pay for the exhilaration clearly experienced by the entire cast of ‘Crazy for You’ (who really could give up their day jobs if they wanted!)
As detailed in their programme, The Lyric Club will be returning in March 2016 with another spectacular performance at The Kings theatre. If you don’t see yourself in a leotard shaking your jelly on stage in one of Scotland’s top venues, then the Glasgow Lyric would be more than happy to do that for you.
For more information on amateur dramatics take look at the Glasgow Lyric’s website or to find your nearest amateur society, check the NODA website– become a star today!