How do 1930s New York showgirls end up in the fictional cowboy town of Deadrock, Nevada? It’s a funny story, and it’s the latest production by Claremont’s musical theatre students.
This coming Wednesday is opening night for Crazy For You, a Tony Award-winning romantic musical comedy that takes audiences from uppity highbrow NYC to the sun-beaten saloons of the American desert. The show was written by playwright Ken Ludwig in the 1990s based on the 1930s Gershwin-penned show Girl Crazy.
The two-hour show opens in New York and centres around Bobby Child, a silver spoonfed Harvard dropout desperate to make it in theatre. He constantly pesters theatre director Bela Zangler for an audition using his connections to the Zangler Follies, a local dance troupe.
Bobby’s mother Lottie Child, however, is the head of a bank and has disdain for anything other than money.
“He’s been very rich, but those things don’t tend to interest him – he’s more focused on the arts and he’s always wanted to be an actor,” said Claremont senior Griffen Hohl, who stars in the lead role.
“He’s just been trying to follow his career for the arts and she doesn’t care for that,” said Augusta Stander, who plays Lottie and presents Bobby with an ultimatum.
“He has to foreclose on a theatre in Nevada that isn’t making its payments. The threat is that either he goes to Nevada and does this for the bank or she will be cutting off his allowance.”
Bobby agrees to go to Nevada, but when he gets there, he becomes lovestruck by Polly Baker, the theatre owner’s daughter. He’s then presented with a Catch-22 – if he forecloses on the theatre, he’ll lose the girl of his dreams – so he decides to put on a show to save the theatre. Hijinks ensues.
“He pretends to be a famous theatre impresario – and then the real one shows up,” said director Colin Plant, who is putting on the show with fellow teachers Jessica English as music director and Joel Danyluk as choreographer.
“There is a lot of humour in this play. It’s a funny western musical with a New York flavour at the beginning and end.”
The show features about 20 songs, with about 100 students making up the cast, crew and orchestra.
“This is probably the largest group that exists in the school, the musical theatre group,” said Plant. “We’re very proud of our program because we give so many opportunities for the students to perform.”
Likewise, Stander and Hohl echoed Plant’s enthusiasm for the program, saying being a part of the musical theatre class has been an exciting experience.
“The theatre community at Claremont is very strong since we’re a school that’s really focused on the fine arts,” said Stander.
“For me personally, I’ve just noticed the class is starting to feel more connected and more like a family,” said Hohl. “Now that we see the costumes and we’re starting to see the set develop, it’s starting to feel more real.”
Crazy For You runs nightly at 7 p.m. from May 18 to 21 and 25 to 28. There is an additional 2 p.m. matinée on May 28. Tickets ($15 for adults, $12.50 for students and seniors) are available by phone at 250-658-6672.