Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Nina Simone: Four Women
Farceur Ken Ludwig wrote the utterly foolish and delightful book for the Tony Award-winning 1992 musical, incorporating elements from an original Gershwin musical, Girl Crazy (1930).
Rich New Yorker Bobby Child (Danny Gardner) dreams of dancing on Broadway, but instead he has to work in the bank his family owns. At his imperious mother's (Sherri L. Edelen) order, he heads to a dying Nevada town to foreclose on an old theater and falls in love at first sight with tough cowgirl Polly Baker (Ashley Spencer), who unbeknownst to him is the daughter of the theater's owner (Harry A. Winter). Bobby decides to put on a show to raise the money for the mortgage ("Mickey Rooney does it all the time in the movies," he says) and invites his friends from the chorus of the Zangler Follies to head out to Deadrock and help him. It's their summer vacation, so why not spend it in the desert?
The complications soon pile up, including some intentional confusion between Bobby and impresario Bela Zangler (Bobby Smith); surly saloon owner Lank Hawkins (Cole Burden), who wants to marry Polly and buy the theater from her father; and Bobby's high-maintenance fiancée Irene (Natascia Diaz), who gets a killer dance number of her own in the second act. Maria Rizzo also shines as the object of Zangler's attentions, and the 13-piece orchestra soars through those Gershwin melodies.
Scenic designer Paul Tate DePoo III has reconfigured the flexible MAX space into a traditional proscenium house complete with a painted backdrop for Nevada and a photo mural representing Broadwayalthough some of the marquees are distractingly anachronisticand Jason Lyons' lighting design brings out every nuance. Tristan Raines' costumes range from the showgirls' rehearsal wear and the cowpokes' lived-in work clothes to Diaz's siren dresses.