Malibu High School’s Performing Arts Department has done it again. Last weekend’s performance of the Gershwins’ 1930s musical comedy “Crazy For You,” with music by George, lyrics by Ira and book by Ken Ludwig, was a triumph. There was no need for Malibuites to shlep to the Broad or the Geffen or even further to the Ahmanson or the Taper. We had first-rate theater just around the corner. The pity is that there were only four performances. For those who missed it, don’t make the same mistake when next year’s production, whatever it is, rolls around.
Unlike so much of contemporary musical theater, this enchanting melodic soufflé sends the audience home humming and singing. It is the Gershwins at the top of their game. You need not be a senior citizen to find irresistible the poignant loveliness of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “But Not For Me,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Embraceable You,” the gentle delight of “Bidin’ My Time” or the iconic showstopper, “I Got Rhythm.” Such marvelous music requires talent to perform it properly and, fortunately, MHS is blessed with an abundant supply. The cast, numbering over 40, all sang, danced and acted as confidently and competently as seasoned Broadway performers. The tap dancing and chorus line numbers were superb and must have required countless hours of rehearsal time. The large stage barely contained the exuberance of the people on it.
The show centers on the tried and true Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney “let’s put on a show” theme and involves singing cowboys, mistaken identities and several pairs of lovers breaking up and making up. It was presented without a curtain and the many scenery changes were executed deftly by the performers. The colorful period costumes looked authentic. The full pit orchestra performed in seamless coordination with the activities on stage.
Singling out specific performances for praise would be daunting and inappropriate. There was nary a clinker. However, one person must be given special recognition-Jodi Plaia, the director of the show and the head of MHS’ Performing Arts Department. “Crazy For You” is only the latest of her many successes. Her selection of material and its execution have been flawless. The school and Malibu are privileged to have her aboard. In the Playbill for “Crazy for You” Ms. Plaia expresses the hope that “for the next two hours your worries will be forgotten, your spirits will be lifted, and your hearts will sing.” Her hope was fully realized.