Crazy for You (musical)

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Crazy for You
Original cast recording
MusicGeorge Gershwin
LyricsIra Gershwin
BookKen Ludwig
BasisGirl Crazy
by George Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Guy Bolton
John McGowan
Productions1992 Broadway
1993 West End
2011 West End revival
2022 Chichester Festival Theatre
2023 West End revival
AwardsTony Award for Best Musical
Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical
Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival

Crazy for You is a romantic comedy musical with a book by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. Billed as "The New Gershwin Musical Comedy", it is largely based on the songwriting team's 1930 musical Girl Crazy, but also incorporates songs from several other productions. It won the 1992 Tony Award (Broadway), the 1993 Olivier Award (London), and the 1994 Dora Award (Toronto) for Best Musical.


Roger Horchow and Elizabeth Williams had been wanting to produce a new version of Girl Crazy. They engaged Ken Ludwig to write the book, Mike Ockrent to direct, and Susan Stroman to do the choreography, and obtained permission from the Gershwin family. Richard Godwin, and Valerie Gordon were the associate producers.[1] The production soon changed to become a new show, using various Gershwin songs from different times. Six songs from Girl Crazy were selected: "Bidin' My Time", "Could You Use Me?", "Embraceable You" , "I Got Rhythm", "But Not For Me", and part of "Bronco Busters"). "Tonight's the Night" was previously unpublished, having originally been written for Show Girl but ultimately not included. "What Causes That?" came from Treasure Girl, but was considered lost until 1982, when a copy was found in a Warner Brothers warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey. "K-ra-zy for You" also originated from Treasure Girl. "The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag)" was the Gershwins' first song performed on Broadway; on the other hand, "Naughty Baby" was making its debut, having been in Primrose, which only played in London and Australia. Other songs came from the musical films Shall We Dance ("Slap That Bass" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me") and A Damsel in Distress, both of which were released in the year of George's death.[2]

Production History[edit]

Broadway (1992)[edit]

After a Washington, D.C. tryout and 10 previews, it opened at the Shubert Theatre on February 19, 1992, and ran for 1,622 performances. The cast included Jodi Benson as Polly, Harry Groener as Bobby Child, Bruce Adler as Bela Zangler, John Hillner as Lank Hawkins, Michele Pawk as Irene Roth, Jane Connell as Mother, Beth Leavel as Tess (Leavel also understudied Benson), Ronn Carroll as Everett Baker, and Stephen Temperley and Amelia White as Eugene and Patricia Fodor. The Manhattan Rhythm Kings played cowboys Mingo, Moose, and Sam, singing in their trademark close harmony.

In his review in The New York Times, Frank Rich wrote, "When future historians try to find the exact moment at which Broadway finally rose up to grab the musical back from the British, they just may conclude that the revolution began last night. The shot was fired at the Shubert Theater, where a riotously entertaining show called Crazy for You uncorked the American musical’s classic blend of music, laughter, dancing, sentiment and showmanship with a freshness and confidence rarely seen during the Cats decade. The miracle has been worked here most ingeniously, though not exclusively, by an extraordinary choreographer named Susan Stroman and the playwright Ken Ludwig . . . Crazy for You scrapes away decades of cabaret and jazz and variety-show interpretations to reclaim the Gershwins’ standards, in all their glorious youth, for the dynamism of the stage."[3]

A cast album was released by Angel Records.

West End (1993)[edit]

The West End production, directed by Ockrent, choreographed by Stroman, and starring Ruthie Henshall, Kirby Ward, and Chris Langham, opened at the Prince Edward Theatre on March 3, 1993 and ran for nearly three years.[4][5]

First West End Revival (2011)[edit]

In 2011, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre did a revival of Crazy for You as part of the 2011 Summer Season. The production moved to the West End, at the Novello Theatre where it ran from October 8, 2011 to March 17, 2012.[6]

Second West End Revival (2023)[edit]

As part of the 2022 Chichester Festival, a new production staged as part of a limited summer run; Charlie Stemp plays the role of Bobby Child with Carly Anderson as Polly Baker. The direction and choreography are by Susan Stroman.[7] The production transferred to the West End's Gillian Lynne Theatre for a limited 30-week West End engagement. Previews began on 24 June 2023, with an official opening on July 3.[8][9]

Subsequent Productions[edit]

A Toronto production directed by Ockrent, choreographed by Stroman, and starring Jim Walton and Camilla Scott opened at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on December 1, 1993 and closed December 31, 1995.

On October 20, 1999, the PBS series Great Performances broadcast a production directed by Matthew Diamond, who was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Direction of a Variety or Music Program.[10]

On October 18, 2009, a showtime challenge, charity gala performance of Crazy for You, directed by Katherine Hare and choreographed by Racky Plews was staged by Eyebrow Productions at the London Palladium. Eyebrow are well known for their unique Showtime Challenges, where all aspects of the show are rehearsed and performed in 48 hours. All proceeds went to Cecily's Fund.[11][12]

The Off-West End premiere of Crazy For You, directed by John Plews, choreographed by Grant Murphy and musically directed by Oliver John Ruthven, ran at Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate from December 13, 2012 to January 27, 2013. The production made use of a smaller ensemble with cast doubling, and a six-piece band.[citation needed]

In summer 2016 a UK revival opened at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury starring Tom Chambers as Bobby and Caroline Sheen as Polly. The production began touring the UK from August 2017 to June 2018 starring Chambers reprising his role as Bobby, Caroline Flack as Irene and Charlotte Wakefield as Polly. Claire Sweeney replaced Flack as Irene halfway through the tour.[13]

In the 2017 concert production of Crazy for You at the Lincoln Center, the cast was joined by choirs across the world including Denver School of the Arts.

Cast and characters[edit]

Character Broadway U.S. National Tour West End First West End Revival Lincoln Center Concert Workshop Chichester Second West End Revival
1992 1993 2011 2017 2018 2022 2023
Bobby Child Harry Groener James Brennan Kirby Ward Sean Palmer Tony Yazbeck Charlie Stemp
Polly Baker Jodi Benson Karen Ziemba Ruthie Henshall Clare Foster Laura Osnes Carly Anderson
Bela Zangler Bruce Adler Stuart Zagnit Chris Langham David Burt Harry Groener Tom Edden
Irene Roth Michele Pawk Kay McClelland Amanda Prior Kim Medcalf Rachel Bloom Rebecca Naomi Jones Merryl Asnah Natalie Kassanga
Lank Hawkins John Hillner Christopher Coucill Shaun Scott Michael McKell Jerry O’Connell Matthew Craig
Everett Baker Ronn Carroll Carleton Carpenter Don Fellows Sidney Livingstone Mark Linn-Baker Fred Applegate Don Gallagher Duncan Smith
Mother (Lottie Child) Jane Connell Lenka Peterson Avril Angers Harriet Thorpe Nancy Opel Gay Soper Marilyn Cutts
Eugene Fodor Stephen Temperley Geoffrey Wade Samuel Holmes Jack McBrayer Carson Elrod Adrian Grove Sam Harrison
Patricia Fodor Amelia White Jeanette Landis Paula Tinker Harriet Thorpe Rachel Dratch Ann Harada Jacqui Dubois Rina Fatania
Tess Beth Leavel Cathy Susan Pyles Vanessa Leagh-Hicks Rachel Stanley Angie Schworer Leigh Zimmerman Sadie-Jean Shirley Kayleigh Thadani
Perkins/Custus Gerry Burkhardt Noel Parenti Alan Forrester Samuel Holmes Jim Borstelmann Kevin Worley Nathan Elwick


  • Patsy – Stacey Logan (and Polly US)
  • Sheila – Judine Hawkins Richard
  • Mitzi – Paula Leggett
  • Susie – Ida Henry
  • Louise – Jean Marie
  • Betsy – Penny Ayn Maas
  • Margie – Salome Mazard
  • Vera – Louise Ruck
  • Elaine – Pamela Everett
  • Swing – Maryellen Scilla


  • Mingo – Tripp Hanson
  • Moose – Brian M. Nalepka
  • Sam – Harold Shane
  • JuniorCasey Nicholaw
  • Pete – Fred Anderson
  • Jimmy – Michael Kubala
  • Billy – Ray Roderick
  • Wyatt – Jeffrey Lee Broadhurst
  • Harry – Joel Goodness
  • Custus – Gerry Burkhardt
  • The Amazing Cowpokes- Zoe Grifns And Charlie Mimcle

Note: While Eugene Fodor was the real-life founder of Fodor's Travel Guides, the character in the musical is highly fictionalized. The real Eugene Fodor was Hungarian-American, not British, and his first travel book was about Europe.

Musical numbers[edit]

≠ Lyrics by Gus Kahn and Ira Gershwin
≠≠ Lyrics by Desmond Carter and Ira Gershwin


Act 1

Backstage at the Zangler Theater in New York in the 1930s, the last performance of the Zangler Follies is wrapping up for the season, and Tess, the Dance Director, is dodging the advances of the married Bela Zangler. Bobby Child, the rich son of a banking family, is backstage hoping for an audition with Mr. Zangler. Bobby performs "K-ra-zy for You," but fails to impress Zangler, having landed on Zangler's foot during the final flourish of his dance routine. Dejected, Bobby heads outside.

Bobby is met by Irene, the wealthy woman to whom he has been engaged for five years, and then by his mother, who demands that Bobby take over her piece of the banking business. Bobby is told to go to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a rundown theater. As the women argue over him, Bobby imagines himself dancing with the Follies Girls and joins them in a rousing rendition of "I Can't Be Bothered Now." Brought back to reality, Bobby decides to escape to Nevada.

When Bobby arrives in Deadrock, it's clear that the gold mining town has seen better days. The men, who are cowboys, sing "Bidin' My Time" in a long, slow drawl. Everett Baker receives a letter from New York warning of the bank foreclosing on the Gaiety Theater. The only woman left in this forlorn town is Everett's daughter, the spunky Polly Baker, who vows to get even with Bobby Child if she ever meets him.

Lank Hawkins, proprietor of the town's saloon, argues with Everett, trying to convince Everett to let him buy the theater before the bank takes it. The stubborn old man refuses to give up the theater due to his memories of Polly's mother being the star of all the theater's old shows.

Bobby enters the town almost dying of thirst, and falls in love with Polly at first sight, not realizing who she is, and expresses his excitement in "Things Are Looking Up." Lank isn't pleased to see a rival for Polly's affections.

Bobby finds himself in quite a bind. If he forecloses on the theater he will lose the girl of his dreams. Inspired, he comes up with the idea of putting on a show to pay off the mortgage. Polly agrees to this plan until she finds out who he is and suspects a trick. Bobby and Polly are both heartbroken, but Bobby decides to put on the show anyway... disguised as Mr. Zangler. Polly, deeply hurt, expresses her loneliness in "Someone to Watch Over Me."

A few days later, ten Follies Girls on vacation from The Zangler Follies appear like a mirage in the desert. Bobby has asked them to help stage a spectacular show in Deadrock. When the men of Deadrock see the girls, the sleepy town becomes very lively. Lank Hawkins continues to express extreme dislike for the show, threatening to shoot Bobby. Rehearsals for the show aren't going well and the cowboys in particular are terrible dancers. Bobby changes all that in the course of one rehearsal with the song "Slap That Bass." Spirits are now at a high point. Meanwhile, to Bobby's dismay, Irene arrives, threatening to expose Bobby's charade, and Polly has fallen in love with Bobby's impersonation of Zangler. She expresses her love for Zangler with the song "Embraceable You."

Opening night arrives, with everyone's hopes high ("Tonight's the Night!"). Sadly, everyone is disappointed to find that the only people to arrive at the show are Eugene and Patricia Fodor, British tourists writing a guidebook on the American West. What starts out as a disappointment changes into the realization that the show has galvanized the once sleepy town. They celebrate with a spirited rendition of "I Got Rhythm" while the real Zangler stumbles unnoticed into the town, almost dehydrated, and collapses just as the scene ends.

Act 2

In Lank's saloon Bobby is professing his love to Polly. Unfortunately, she is still in love with the man who she thinks is Zangler. Bobby is about to convince Polly that he has been impersonating "Zangler" when the real Zangler stumbles into the saloon looking for Tess.

Zangler finds Tess, but refuses her request to produce the show. Tess storms off, and Zangler, now drunk after being disgusted by the town, bemoans his fate. Bobby, dressed like Zangler, reels in to drown his sorrow over losing Polly. Drunk and depressed, the two men act as mirror images of each other, and lament their lost loves in "What Causes That."

The next morning, Polly sees the two Zanglers and realizes what has happened. She slaps Bobby and leaves in a huff, while the townsfolk prepare for a meeting at the theater to discuss what to do with the show. Irene comes to Bobby in one final attempt to make him go back to New York with her, but Bobby rejects her, and states his love for Polly. Immensely frustrated with Bobby, Irene seduces Lank in "Naughty Baby."

The townsfolk are all now gathered at the theater. Bobby is all for trying the show again, while Polly thinks they should abandon the venture. The Fodors counsel the dejected townspeople to keep a "Stiff Upper Lip," which includes a parody of the barricade scene from Les Misérables, but by the end of the song only Polly, Everett, Bobby, and Tess still think the show should continue.

Everyone but Bobby and Polly leave the theater. Bobby prepares to leave for New York, professing that his memories of Polly will never fade in "They Can't Take That Away from Me." Polly realizes, too late, that she does love Bobby, and after he leaves, laments her loss in "But Not For Me."

Meanwhile, Bela Zangler decides to put on the show as a favor to Tess; the two seem to be in love once more. Although he had been planning to cast Bobby as the lead, he makes Polly the star of the show after learning that Bobby has left for New York.

Six weeks later, Bobby is still thinking of Deadrock as he works in his mother's bank. For his birthday, Mrs. Child gives him the Zangler theater (Zangler has used all his money on the show in Deadrock). While initially ecstatic, Bobby realizes that his love for Polly is worth more in "Nice Work if You Can Get It," and leaves with Mrs. Child for Deadrock to pursue Polly.

Meanwhile, Polly has decided to leave for New York to look for Bobby, who arrives in Deadrock just after she leaves. After learning that Polly has left to find him, he leaves the stage to "wash up" before driving back to New York to catch her. Bobby's mother and Irene (who is now married to Lank) notice each other and start an argument. Everett notices Mrs. Child, and falls head-over-heels in love with her, as shown in a reprise of "Things Are Looking Up." His affections are reciprocated, and immediately afterward, Polly reenters with Custus, one of the cowboys. Custus was trying to give Polly a ride to the station, but his car ran out of gas, and Polly missed the train to New York. Together the townspeople concoct a plan, and Polly and Bobby are finally reunited in the "Finale."

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1992 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Bruce Adler Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Michele Pawk Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical Mike Ockrent Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Susan Stroman Won
Outstanding Orchestrations William D. Brohn Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design William Ivey Long Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Robin Wagner Nominated
Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Ken Ludwig Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Harry Groener Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Jodi Benson Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Bruce Adler Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Mike Ockrent Nominated
Best Choreography Susan Stroman Won
Best Costume Design William Ivey Long Won
Best Lighting Design Paul Gallo Nominated

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1993 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Won
Best Actor in a Musical Kirby Ward Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Ruthie Henshall Nominated
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Chris Langham Nominated
Best Director of a Musical Mike Ockrent Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Susan Stroman Won
Best Set Designer Robin Wagner Won

2011 London revival[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2012 Laurence Olivier Award Best Musical Revival Won
Best Costume Design Peter McKintosh Won


  1. ^ "Crazy For You". The Broadway League. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  2. ^ Kimball, Robert (1992). "Crazy About Gershwin". Crazy for You (CD liner notes). Angel Records. p. 8. CDC 7 54618 2.
  3. ^ Rich, Frank. "Review" New York Times
  4. ^ "Crazy For You London theatre tickets and information".
  5. ^ "The Envelope: Hollywood's Awards and Industry Insider - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Shenton, Mark."West End Run for Summer Production of 'Crazy for You' Resumes Oct. 7" Archived 2011-10-10 at the Wayback Machine, October 7, 2011
  7. ^ "Crazy for You". 14 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Charlie Stemp Will Star in West End Revival of Crazy for You". Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  9. ^ "Cast & Creative - Crazy For You | Gillian Lynne Theatre London". Crazy For You. Retrieved 2023-06-26.
  10. ^ "'Crazy for You' Production, Great Performances" Archived 2009-05-01 at the Wayback Machine, accessed January 17, 2011
  11. ^ "Home".
  12. ^ "Showtime Challenge to Produce 'Crazy for You' at the London Palladium in 48 Hours" Archived 2009-10-19 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Claire Sweeney to replace Caroline Flack in UK tour of Crazy For You". Retrieved 2018-05-01.

External links[edit]