Asolo Rep's 'Crazy for You' Dazzles With Dance, Design and More

The 65th season's opening musical promises to entertain holiday audiences with a bright, pleasingly stuffed package.

By Kay Kipling November 20, 2023

Daniel Plimpton and cast members in Asolo Rep's Crazy for You.

Image: Frank Atura

Asolo Rep pulls out all the stops for its season opening production, Crazy for You—from costumes to choreography to set design and beyond—and the opening night audience responded with well-deserved enthusiasm.

I’ll be honest: Crazy for You, Ken Ludwig’s reworking of an old Gershwin musical called Girl Crazy, has never been one of my favorite stage musicals. Oh, it’s got the songs—“Bidin’ My Time,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Embraceable You,” etc. It’s got the dancing, in spades. And it’s got some fun, slapstick action as it takes our hero, Bobby Child (Daniel Plimpton), from the streets of New York to the hard-luck, appropriately named town of Deadrock, Nevada, where he falls in love with the place’s one woman, Polly Baker (Sara Esty), and works hard to put on a show to save her beloved theater.

But it’s also got some weaknesses in the book, and, especially in Act II, some padding to stretch what’s a very slight story into a full-length musical. Two back-to-back numbers in the second act, “Naughty Baby” and “Stiff Upper Lip,” for example, can be entertaining on their own, but they don’t really serve much purpose in rounding out the story.

The dancing cowboys of Crazy for You.

Image: Frank Atura

Nevertheless, Crazy for You is a bright, sparkling package, from the moment we meet Bobby’s showgirls in their glittering finery (the costumes are by the late Eduardo Sicangco, and they really dazzle) to the inevitable love-at-first-sight (at least on his end) meeting between Bobby and Polly. The dancing (to director Denis Jones’ choreography, rousing, fun or romantic by turns) is exemplary, whether it’s polished tapping or more Fred-and-Ginger ballroom style. Orchestral arrangements, by music director Angela Steiner, make those George and Ira tunes really pop.

I like that Deadrock’s male ensemble often looks more like the cowboys they’re supposed to be than pretty chorus boys. Plimpton and Esty are a terrific pair of maybe lovers (is there really any doubt?). Barrett Riggins as scheming hotel owner Lank Hawkins and Candice Hatakeyama as Bobby’s domineering fiancée Irene add some zest to what can play as very one-dimensional roles. And one of my favorite bits from the show, in “What Causes That?”, which places Danny Gardner as Hungarian theatrical impresario Bela Zangler in the same room (and costume) as Bobby’s fake Zangler, still amuses even if you’ve seen it several times before (as I have).

Sara Esty and Daniel Plimpton as Polly and Bobby in Crazy for You.

Image: Frank Atura

There’s need to spare a word, too, for Adam Koch’s set design, which glides us from Broadway to Deadrock smoothly and even reproduces the Asolo’s Mertz Theatre interior in Polly’s theater; and for Jason Lyons’ lighting design, which shifts moods from glitzy to subdued to out-of-this-world starry with aplomb. Cheers as well to fight director Mark Rose; those saloon brawls are staged and timed perfectly.

All in all, it's a winner.

Crazy for You continues through Jan. 4; for tickets, call (941) 351-8000 or visit

Show Comments