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Aiming to please with 'Crazy For You'

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Notre Dame Regional High School is taking on a big challenge with its annual musical, "Crazy For You," which features legendary George and Ira Gershwin songs like "I Got Rhythm," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Embraceable You." Not to mention tap dancing. Lots of tap dancing.

"It has been a challenge, and it still is," said director Cindy King. "It's a very hard production."

King is certain, however, that the students are capable of the undertaking. "We wouldn't have picked it if we thought it was too hard to do. We don't know the meaning of too hard."

The Easter weekend complicated things somewhat because that meant no rehearsals for three days. On Monday, though, the students were back, the costumes were in and the cast was ready to perform.

The cast is headed by senior Blake Fisher, a Notre Dame theater veteran who has performed in the school's yearly musical since he was a freshman. Fisher plays the lead role of Bobby Child, who dreams of being a dancer.

Fisher's role requires lots of dancing and singing. "The biggest deal to me is just that the music is really difficult," Child said. Although he tap danced previously in "Oklahoma," Fisher called the dancing in "Crazy for You" "really intense."

Senior Casey Cuba plays the female lead, Polly Baker, Child's love interest. Cuba also has been in every Notre Dame musical since she was a freshman.

She took three years of tap lessons but still found her role's dance requirements difficult. "It's pretty tough. We've all been working really hard," she said.

Before the rehearsals got underway, King showed the students a video of a professional performance of "Crazy For You." Cuba loved what she saw, but she also recognized the difficulties involved.

"I was impressed with it, but I knew we could do it because of all the shows we've done in the past," she said. "This one so far is my favorite. It has a lot of charisma, and it's so funny."

Steve Wissinger plays Bela Zangler, the owner of the Zangler Theater, and the man Child wants to impress. Wissinger, much to his delight, does not have any tap-dancing numbers but has been challenged by the production in other ways.

In addition to his acting duties, Wissinger has been helping with set construction, something he has done in the past.

"This is the most difficult set I've worked on," he said. Part of the reason for that is the amount of scene changes and the number and size of scenery pieces.

"There's so much scenery you can't walk backstage, " said Hannah Davis, who plays Tess.

Despite the old Gershwin tunes it showcases, "Crazy For You" debuted on Broadway in 1992. Playwright Ken Ludwig adapted it from "Girl Crazy," which appeared on Broadway in 1930 and was made into a 1943 movie staring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

To King, staging "Crazy For You" just felt right after last year's "West Side Story." Right after the "West Side Story" run ended, she knew the school had to put on something peppier and less serious.

"Crazy For You" fits the bill with its light-hearted tone and comedy as well the tap dancing.

Although a lot of hard work and hours have gone into Notre Dame's production, those involved think it will pay off with the audience.

"It's a crowd-pleaser," Wissinger and Davis said.


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