Amidst the freezing temperatures and howling wind of North Wales this week, an electrifying performance is taking place in the warmth and comfort of Venue Cymru. The Watermill Theatre have brought their hit production of Crazy For You to our cold climes. And it is worth bearing the snow and ice in order to catch it*. Prepare to have your heart lit up with a feel-good soundtrack, and to lose yourself in its escapist narrative. With music by the masters of the musicals song, George and Ira Gershwin, this is sure to be a fun-filled night out that will leave you positively on fire for more of the same. I challenge you not to enjoy it!
One of the highlights of this particular production is the actor Tom Chambers. Most recognisable from his TV roles in Holby City and Father Brown, here he plays Bobby, the son of a banker and a wannabe Broadway star. Putting on an accomplished New York accent, Chambers brings plenty of humour to the role. He also portrays a level of innocence in Bobby that manages to place him as a dreamer without him ever becoming naïve. It is so easy to be won over by his charm and wit. The multi-talented Chambers does not just treat us to some fabulous acting. He also demonstrates his amazing prowess as a dancer and instrumentalist. Throughout the show, we see and hear his impressive tap dancing skills. We are also treated to his playing of various instruments. Despite his limited ability in this when compared to other cast members, he nevertheless tries his hand at the drum, the double bass, and, perhaps more unconventionally, the spoons. There is not much this man cannot do. As a result, he is the perfect star of the show.
Chambers is closely matched by his two female co-stars, Claire Sweeney and Charlotte Wakefield. We don’t get to see as much of Sweeney as her billing might suggest, yet when she is on stage, she is a force to be reckoned with. As Irene, Bobby’s supposed fiancée, she is commanding, brash and fabulously sensuous. It is a shame that we don’t get to see more of her. Thankfully, this is not a problem with Wakefield. She is pretty much the co-lead with Chambers, giving a brilliant performance as Polly, Bobby’s love interest. She fuels her character with passion and determination, bringing a steely and strong-willed nature that defies any potential for Polly to simply be the passive and do-eyed girl. She is equal to Chambers in the choreographic department whilst exceeding him with her strong singing voice. Her solo performances are a real treat for the ears. However, it is the ensemble pieces that are the musical highlights of the show. “Who Can Ask For Anything More” is a masterclass in musicality whilst “Slap That Bass” is fabulously fun. This latter number comes complete with some outstanding choreography as well as a star turn from Ned Rudkins-Stow (Moose) on the double bass. It really will “slap away your trouble”.
If you’re looking for a bit of razzmatazz then Crazy For You fits that brief perfectly. It is uproariously fun and unashamedly upbeat, ideal for washing away those winter blues and warming the cockles of your heart. I cannot recommend it highly enough as a prescription for a tough day or against an air of negativity. So escape into a world of sassy sequins, tremendous tunes and heaps of hilarity and happiness. Brave the cold weather for a bit of fireside joy. You won’t regret it. I promise.