Much to celebrate with Crazy for You at Theatre Memphis
By Randall Hartzog
The George and Ira Gershwin-inspired Crazy for You will open at Theatre Memphis on the Lohrey Stage June 3 and run through June 26. As the final show of our 2010-11 season, Crazy for You is one of the largest musical productions ever attempted by Theatre Memphis, which is celebrating over 90 years of community performing, service, and involvement.
Other reasons to celebrate Crazy for You are the triple-threat stars Jordan Nichols and Emily Pettet as the lead characters, Bobby Child and Polly Baker. Singing and dancing fills the stage as Bobby, a wealthy son of a banking family, dreams of being on Broadway, but his audition goes awry. So, it’s off to Nevada where his family insists he must foreclose on a failing theater. Instead, he mounts a show and wins the heart of lovely Polly, the ingénue. Some of the Gershwin songs included in the show are “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Embraceable You,” “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”
Nichols, 25, is known for his roles and relationship to Playhouse on the Square and is excited to be performing at Theatre Memphis again. His last role at TM over 10 years ago was in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers. Only last year an undetected medical condition sidelined his promising professional career, but that condition has since been identified and treated, and Nichols is back on stage ready to entertain. “This experience has been a challenge in more ways than one,” he says. “ Yes, there are pages of lines to memorize, an ample amount of songs to sing, and dance steps galore, but the sheer stamina of having to remember all of those things while rarely getting a second to go off stage has been the biggest hurdle. Last year I was diagnosed with a rare heart disease known as Brugada Syndrome, and while it has not prevented me from performing, it has certainly made things more interesting. This is, by far, the biggest role I have ever had in a musical, and it is such a great role! Thanks to the lengthy rehearsal process, I have had plenty of time to build up the endurance I need to perform this role with ease and finesse. Returning to Theatre Memphis these many years later, I could not be more thrilled. Everyone from the staff to the creative team to the actors has been so accommodating and supportive throughout the whole experience. People sometime underestimate how much goes into a big show like this, especially when it looks as polished as our show, but I think it just speaks to the dedication and hard work of everyone involved.”
Director Robert Hetherington, Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Memphis, cheers the talented Nichols for his professional approach. Hetherington stated, “Jordan was perfect for this role, and I know I was right about this. He sets a very high bar for the rest of us to reach and brings the optimism and determination to his work that perfectly matches the character of Bobby Child and the effect he has on the characters of Deadrock, Nevada. We have worked together 4 or 5 times in the past, and I cannot say enough great things about the person he is.”
Nichols co-star, Emily Pettet, has most recently starred at Theatre Memphis in Curtains but charmed many as the young Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale in Grey Gardens at The Circuit Playhouse earlier this year.
Director Hetherington says, “Crazy for You is a modern take on the classical Broadway format that weaves many of the greatest songs of the 20th Century by the Gershwin’s with outrageous humor, excellent singing, and spectacularly inventive tap dancing. At the first meeting of this talented cast I told them this show allows us to indulge in two themes that account for why we do this thing: the love of making theatre and the opportunity to make people happy.” Hetherington’s other directing credits at TM include Cyrano, Inherit the Wind, and The Who Came to Dinner.
Kathy Caradine, a veteran dance instructor and choreographer who has worked on numerous productions at Theatre Memphis and other stages across the city, is also working on this show. Hetherington holds Caradine in high regard and says, “Kathy Caradine, whose belief in this show informs every single minute of stage time, is the real hero of this production. It has been a pleasure to see her energy and skills at work.”
Performance dates for Crazy for You are June 3-26. Shows are at 7:30pm on Thursdays (and Wednesday, June 15) and 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees on Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $28 for adults, $15 for students with a valid ID, and $10 for children under 12. Call 901-682-8323 to purchase tickets or go online to theatrememphis.org. Theatre Memphis is located at 630 Perkins Extended, at the corner of Perkins Extended and Southern.