L.A. set to go ‘Crazy’ for Tony win­ner

Los Angeles Times - - CULTURE MONSTER - By Deb­o­rah Vankin

You could say Su­san Stro­man is crazy for the mu­si­cal.

In 1992 Stro­man launched her ca­reer by chore­ograph­ing the orig­i­nal Broad­way pro­duc­tion of “Crazy for You,” a Wall Street-boymeets-Main Street-girl ro­man­tic com­edy with mu­sic and lyrics by Ge­orge and Ira Gersh­win. She snagged a Tony Award, her first of five.

Now Stro­man is re­turn­ing to that mu­si­cal, di­rect­ing and chore­ograph­ing a new pro­duc­tion that will make its pre-Broad­way de­but at the Ah­man­son Theatre in Fe­bru­ary, Cen­ter Theatre Group is ex­pected to an­nounce Wed­nes­day.

Stro­man said the re­vival came about or­gan­i­cally, as if it were “meant to be.” In Fe­bru­ary, she di­rected and chore­ographed a one-night concert per­for­mance of “Crazy for You” at the David Gef­fen Hall at Lin­coln Cen­ter, pre­sented by Man­hat­tan Concert Pro­duc­tions. By co­in­ci­dence, it was the 25th an­niver­sary — to the night — of the “Crazy for You” de­but on Broad­way at the Shu­bert Theatre. As luck would have it, pro­ducer Joey Parnes hap­pened to be in the Gef­fen au­di­ence.

“It was such a suc­cess when we did it that night with the orches­tra on­stage,” Stro­man says. “It was like a rock concert. You could tell peo­ple loved it and wanted to see it again. … Joey called the Ah­man­son right away.”

A few tweaks

With a book by two-time Tony nom­i­nee Ken Lud­wig, “Crazy for You” is an ode to 1930s Amer­i­can mu­si­cals. The new pro­duc­tion, to be pro­duced by Cen­ter Theatre Group in as­so­ci­a­tion with Parnes, will fea­ture rein­vented sets, cos­tumes and other de­sign el­e­ments, Stro­man says.

“I’m go­ing to tweak the chore­og­ra­phy. I al­ways chore­o­graph to the strengths of the ac­tors, so it’ll be a to­tally new ver­sion,” she says.

The mu­si­cal takes place in the fic­tional, de­spon­dent town of Dead­rock, Nev., which un­der­goes a cul­tural re­vival when a New York ac­tor stages a mu­si­cal. The story is more rel­e­vant now than ever be­fore, Stro­man says.

“It’s about how art and cul­ture can make a town be re­born again, about the power of art, re­ally,” she says. “All across Amer­ica, we see th­ese lit­tle towns that have faded away, ei­ther be­cause their theater is gone, their mu­seum is gone, their cul­tural cen­ter is gone. In the world we live in now, there’s a threat to the arts and there’s a threat in bud­gets be­ing cut for cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions. Once that hap­pens, there’s a death in that com­mu­nity. So it’s im­por­tant to re­mind peo­ple that art and cul­ture keep a town alive, keep peo­ple alive.”

There’s no short­age of lev­ity in “Crazy for You,” though, Stro­man says.

“It’s about ro­mance and com­edy and two lead char­ac­ters who are very head­strong, op­po­sites in many ways,” she says. “It’s pure fun.”

Tony mag­net

Stro­man di­rected and chore­ographed Mel Brooks’ and Thomas Mee­han’s 2001 Broad­way adap­ta­tion of “The Pro­duc­ers,” which earned her two Tony Awards in both cat­e­gories — two of the record 12 Tonys the pro­duc­tion earned. “Con­tact,” which Stro­man co-cre­ated, di­rected and chore­ographed for Lin­coln Cen­ter Theater, won Tonys for best mu­si­cal and chore­og­ra­phy in 2000. She’s di­rected and chore­ographed work for the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and the New York City Ballet.

“Crazy for You” is part of a 2017-18 Ah­man­son sea­son that also in­cludes “The Red Shoes,” “Bright Star,” “Some­thing Rot­ten!” “Soft Power” and “The Hu­mans.” “Crazy for You” will run Feb. 7 through March 18.

The pro­duc­ers hope to bring the pro­duc­tion to Broad­way later in 2018, al­though no date or theater has yet been set.

deb­o­rah.vankin @la­times.com

Carolyn Cole Los An­ge­les Times

“IT’S PURE fun,” says Su­san Stro­man of the 1992 mu­si­cal “Crazy for You,” which earned her a Tony.

Ari Mintz Newsday

“THE PRO­DUC­ERS,” with Matthew Brod­er­ick, left, and Nathan Lane, gar­nered Stro­man two Tonys.

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