Bobby Child (Jameson Zoller) and the Follies sing and dance I Can’t Be Bothered Now in Highlands High School’s production of Crazy For You.
Review by Marley Broenner, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
New York Follies Girls, British tourists, Nevada townies and cowboys... this range of acts would seem unlikely to share the same stage, let alone get along well. Not in Highlands High School's production of Crazy For You.
Down-on-his-luck and down-in-the-dumps, 1930's playboy Bobby Child is a dreamer looking for his big break in the dancing world. He attempts to put his foot in the door with the big-shot theater extraordinaire Bela Zangler, but instead stomps on his toe... literally! After this failure and a scramble with Irene, his fiancé of 5 years, he is tasked by his overbearing, bank-owning mother, Lottie, with traveling to Deadrock, Nevada, where he would investigate a defaulted mortgage. When he arrives, he is surprised to find a run-down theater and the love of his life, Polly. However, she shuts him down when she finds out the reason for his arrival: to take away the theater, which is the only connection she has left to her mother. With the help of the townies, Zangler's Follies Girls, and a rather convincing wig/mustache/beard and suit, Bobby sets off on a mission to save the theater and win Polly's heart.
Through their amazing stage presence, flawless acting choices, and undeniable chemistry, the entire cast brought this story to life. The dynamic back and forth banter as well as complex tap choreography created a fast-paced atmosphere yet kept steady fluidity in large group numbers; not one scene felt stagnant or unmoving while any of these groups were on stage!
Every scene was filled with energy by Jameson Zoller's Bobby Child, who left a grand impression with his high-energy dancing and vocal ability. Samantha Heilman's Polly held an amazing emotional performance and beautifully conveyed the range of emotions that her character experiences. The disapproval and sassy dialogue shared between Jameson Zoller's Bobby Child, Ashley Kelly's Irene, and Phia Veshapidze's Lottie was incredibly amusing with the dynamic comedic chemistry they brought to the stage that never ceased to have the audience rolling on the floor with amusement.
All members gave a charming and entertaining performance. The successful comedic timing and incredible use of space during more physically demanding scenes including the Townies and Cowboys left the audience howling with laughter. The synchronization of the dancers, specifically Katie Buschle and Emmarie Brewer, as well as agile vocal ability while executing complicated choreography was an incredible feat to witness.
The Student Technical Directors Robert Chalk and Cooper Gamble's hard work paid off with an incredible production. Bobby's tap shoes, Zangler's glasses and cane, Lank's quick-draw pistol, Irene's New York fashion… all original and quirky testaments to their character traits marvelously portrayed onstage from the minds of Student Costume Heads Megan Reichert, Emerson Slaby, and Alanna Gorrigan. One of the most eye-catching technical aspects was the clock being shot off the wall. One word to describe the behind-the-scenes work: phenomenal!
Even though Crazy For You is a comedy through and through, the audience left on a high note, taking away the heartwarming message to find what's in your heart and go get it... and to be aware of the incredible things and people you could encounter on the way.
Polly Baker (Samantha Heilman) mistakes Bobby Child (Jameson Zoller) for Bela Zangler during the song "Embraceable You" in Highlands High School’s production of Crazy For You.
Review By Piper Chatman, Taylor High School Critic Team
Chin up! Highlands High School's enchanting rendition of Crazy For You had those in attendance wanting to slap that bass and dance the night away.
The story follows Bobby Child, an aspiring Broadway performer, as his mother forces him to foreclose on a theatre in Deadrock, Nevada. However, after seeing the building's owner, Polly Baker, he falls in love and vows to save the theater by putting on a show with the townspeople as the cast. Bobby and Polly's rocky first encounter leads him to disguise himself as the illustrious Bela Zangler to fulfill his promise to her. Crazy For You was inspired by Girl Crazy, a Gershwin show from 1930. Decades later, Ken Ludwig wrote a modernized version and added other familiar songs to revive the classical Broadway style. The musical originally opened in 1992 and has since won several awards.
Every cast member was entirely engrossed in their character and displayed their extensive dancing capabilities, making for an immersive, visually entertaining performance. The crew bolstered the show by adding a historically accurate set, efficient scene movement, and mood-appropriate lighting.
Jameson Zoller masterfully played Deadrock's favorite playboy, Bobby Child. His unwavering energy and smile were infectious from the moment he stepped on stage. Zoller proved himself a triple threat in terms of singing, dancing, and acting, all of which were exemplary. His ability to act as a person pretending to be a different person demonstrated his genuine talent as a performer. His co-star, Samantha Heilman, portrayed the confident Polly Baker wonderfully. Her vocals perfectly complemented Zoller's, and her ability to express a full range of emotions had the audience laughing one scene and crying the next.
Ashley Kelley successfully acted as a believable antagonistic fiancée in her performance as Irene Roth. Her realistic belligerent stage presence made her compatible with the other villain of the show, Lank (Aidan Greenwell). Other memorable comedic performances were from Bela Zangler (Connor Defevers), Lottie Child (Phia Veshapidze), and the Townies, who all brought much-needed light-heartedness after songs that tugged at the heartstrings, such as "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me."
Highlands' devoted crew produced exceptionally precise and stable audiovisual elements. Nate Culyer's lighting was intricately designed to fit the mood of each scene, utilizing cool tones for New York and warmer tones in Nevada. The combined design and construction efforts of Emma Cooper, Caroline Slaby, Ryan Groneck, Marshall Anstaett, Stella Halbauer, Natalie Horton, Grace Reynolds, and Shreya Vaghela yielded an impressive set that was easily movable and allowed for swift scene changes.
Highlands High School's take on Crazy For You sparked sheer joy in all who had the honor to watch it and appealed to both young people craving modern themes and comedy and older audiences longing for the nostalgia of a classical musical. Hours of hilarity, suspense, and romantic tension--who could ask for anything more?
Irene Roth (Ashley Kelly) strikes a final pose catching Lank Hawkins (Aidan Greenwell) by surprise in Highlands High School’s production of Crazy For You.
Review by Sophia Rooksberry, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
As stated in the Act One Finale, Highlands High School sure did have rhythm in their marvelous production of Crazy For You!
Set in the 1930s, Crazy For You follows the story of Bobby Child, a banker from New York, as he journeys to a village in Nevada to foreclose a rundown theater. When he arrives and finds himself falling in love with the theater-owner's daughter, Polly, he decides to save the theater and achieve his dream of becoming a Broadway star. Thanks to the comedic genius of scriptwriter Ken Ludwig, and a score of Gershwin ballads, hilarity and sweetness ensue. With lots of dedication and talent, the company at Highlands High School produced a jaw-dropping production of this notoriously difficult musical.
A triple threat by all means of the phrase, Jameson Zoller's performance as Bobby Child cannot be praised enough. Between tap dancing on top of cars, impersonating a flamboyant Hungarian theater owner, and maintaining vocals that sounded as if they were streamed right out of a 30s radio, Zoller did not once drop his energy or charisma. Additionally, Samantha Heilman in the role of Polly was the perfect combination of southern charm and extraordinary magnetism, owning the stage with every powerful note. When these two performed together, their chemistry electrified the entire theater and left audience members speechless.
One of the standout performances of the entire show was from the entire ensemble. With every ad-lib and reaction, each ensemble member treated their role as the main character, and it should not have been done any other way. The contrast in physicality before and after the Follies Girls made performers out of the townspeople was thoroughly impressive, and the Follies Girls themselves were expertly synchronized and hilarious. Serving as one of the show's primary antagonists was Aidan Greenwell in the role of Lank, Polly's want-to-be boyfriend. Combining the character's scripted anger issues with Greenwell's knack for comedic timing, this role quickly became an audience favorite after the dozens of times sides were stitched with laughter.
The show was made complete with absolutely remarkable technical aspects. Almost every character adorned a wig that was able to withstand the most intense dance numbers without a single hair falling out of place. The contrast between the bleak New York City lights and the brutally hot Nevada sunshine was an excellent touch from the lighting crew that subtly helped convey the theme of the show. Finally, the costumes were an absolute work of art. Detailed and durable, the costumes of both the Follies Girls and the townsfolk of Deadrock were dazzling and authentic.
When words fail to describe the magnificence of a production and the only thing left to do is to make an easy play on words, it still stands true: by the end of the immaculately choreographed final bows, the audience was crazy for more.
The Follies dancers enter Deadrock, Nevada for the first time in Highlands High School’s production of Crazy For You.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"To accompany such amazing lead roles was a company to match. The Follies Girls stood out through their exquisite dancing skills, bringing to life the show girls of the 1930s. Other stand outs in this phenomenal company were Lank played by Aidan Greenwell, and Irene Roth played by Ashley Kelly. These two played the roles as the hard core fiancés with such vocal vitality and physicality, bringing to life their own love story through the song 'Naughty Baby.'"
-Malayna Pope, Cooper High School Critic Team
"The costumes are one of the most impressive aspects of the whole production, led by students Megan Reichert and Emersen Slaby. The Follies girls had the most eye-catching dresses, including hot pink, personalized flapper attire, and beautiful red and black dresses used for their performance. The coordination and timing of the props onstage, designed by Olivia Hart and Raegan Ziegler, was jaw dropping. At one point, a coo-coo clock on the wall split in half precisely when a prop gun was fired at it, creating an amazing effect."
-Ella Jones, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
"Aspiring dancer Bobby Child, played by Jameson Zoller, tumbled his way into Deadrock, and tapped into the hearts of the townsfolk as he strove to save the run-down Gaiety Theater. Zoller exemplified Bobby's dynamic showmanship, tap dancing on top of cars and switching personas - and facial hair - all while sporting impressive vocal chops. Polly Baker, played by Samantha Heilman, strode into Deadrock's town center in the number, "Things Are Looking Up", wonderfully portraying the "all-American girl" Bobby set his eyes on. With powerful expressions, Heilman illustrated the whirlwind of Polly's emotions as she was enthralled in a tangled web of puppy love amidst the clash of the big city and the wild West."
-Courtney Reckelhoff, Harrison High School Critic Team
"The technical side of the show, led by student technical directors Robert Chalk, and Cooper Gamble, was outstanding! The sets, which were all student-made were incredible with a double-decker town for the western setting. Lighting and Sound Crew, Benjamin Anderson, Will de Sola, Mason Hardesty, Mason Stull, and Brayden Taft did a wonderful job in adding yellow lights for the mellow mood of the west to pink and purples during romance scenes. Also, the footlights at the front of the stage which were turned on during the New York show scenes giving the stage a Broadway feel to it."
-Caty Leahy, St. Ursula Academy Critic Team
"Highlands theater program has such extensive and diverse talent. It was a venturesome decision to choose a show with such substantial amounts of technical dancing; a decision that paid off. In particular, Emmarie Brewer, who portrayed Patsy, one of Zangler's Follies Girls, was captivating to watch."
-Rachel Bohl, Mariemont High School Critic Team
"It seems impossible to be in two places at once but Highlands High School's technical crew did just that. The musical Crazy For You revolves around two different locations, one of which is in Nevada and one is in New York City. Emma Cooper and Caroline Slaby, the Set Deco Heads, convinced the audience they were truly in the blistering heat of Nevada or in the bright lustrous light of New York City."
-Grace Flerlage, Mariemont High School Critic Team
"The supporting cast played a key role in this show, adding the energy needed to every scene. The group of townsfolk, and most notably the cowboys, were a primary example of this, with each of their scenes being a comedic delight for the audience. Each of them demonstrated incredible attention to the scenes during the performances and was able to balance the rude and wild nature of the cowboys whilst not distracting from the focus of each given scene. One notable example of the supporting cast was from Bela Zangler (Connor Defevers), who delivered his role with the utmost comedy and passion."
-Benny Mitchell, Mariemont High School Critic Team