ST. ANTHONY — George and Ira Gershwin’s music lives on, thanks to the upcoming South Fremont High School play titled “Crazy For You.”
The popular play pays homage to the famed musical brothers and their hit songs. The men worked together in writing various 1930s musicals and such tunes as “Someone to watch over me,” “I got rhythm,” and “They Can’t Take that Away from Me” that are performed via music and dance throughout the play.
Playwright Ken Ludwig wrote “Crazy For You” in the early 1990s.
“He took all these old Gershwin songs and kind of made a story around it,” said South Fremont High School’s play director and speech teacher Erika Weight.
According to the webpage Gershwin.com, George and Ira Gershwin are credited with raising “popular musical theatre to a new level of sophistication.” The Gershwins worked together in writing numerous popular songs from the mid 1920s to the late 1930s in what is considered the Jazz Age.
“The brothers wrote almost exclusively with each other, composing over two dozen scores for Broadway and Hollywood,” it reported. “Though they had many individual song hits, their greatest achievement may have been the elevation of musical comedy to an American art form.”
Weight and her young thespians plan to present the play starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 and continuing every night at the same time through Sunday, Nov. 18 and again at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at the high school. Tickets sold before each performance are $6 per person and $30 per family. Tickets at the gate are $1 more for each group.
“Crazy For You” details the story of a banker would-be actor/dancer Bobby Child who is sent to foreclose on the old Gaiety Theater. In the process, he falls in love with the theater owner’s daughter, Polly Baker.
“Now lovestruck, Bobby comes up with a plan: call in his friends, the Follies Girls, all the way from New York City, cast the locals — a bunch of rundown cowboys with latent musical talent — and put on a show to save the old building,” reported the webpage, stageagent.com
To find out what happens, you’ll have to see the play.
The story line includes a lot of singing and dancing, Weight said.
“Every song is like 10 minutes long. They probably sing for 30 percent of every song. It’s so heavy in the dancing. I think that’s what people will come for,” she said. “These kids have worked so hard to learn these dance numbers. It’s not been easy. It’s been rough.”
Weight said her young actors got the hang of it thanks to her choreographer, Katie Goulding.
“My choreographer is amazing. She does stuff that everyone can do and makes them look good doing it. It looks like this big crazy amazing production of dance numbers. She’s just magic,” Weight said.
Some of the dance steps involve tap dancing, Weight said.
“That’s a whole new skill they’ve had to learn,” she said.
About 58 students are participating in the cast and crew. They auditioned at the first of the school year. Jack Haeberlee plays Bobby Child while McKenzie Webster plays Polly Baker.
Last year, Weight directed the play “Big River,” a drama about slavery, and she hopes that this year’s musical will help lighten the mood.
“That was kind of heavy. ‘Crazy for You’ is a little more cheesy and lighthearted play,” she said.
Weight saw the play performed while attending college.
“I thought, ‘This is a cool show. It has fun costumes, fun dancing and fun music,’” she said.
Weight has spent the past five years directing musicals at the high school. She enjoys seeing her young actors and actresses become well-rounded by adding drama to their long list of activities.
“There is an opportunity in our little town to be a football star and to be a musical star,” she said. “It’s growth that I love seeing in these kids. There’s something special about teaching high school kids.”
Being in a play teaches youth about many different things such as memorizing, problem solving and learning effective communications with others.
“When you’re in a musical, it’s a team. Sometimes when you’re on a ball team, you can pull it off by messing around. We don’t have that ability to sub someone out. These actors together have to make it work. It’s a family. They get close,” she said.
One of the most important skills learned while in a play involves relationships, Weight said.
“You can be mad at each other, but you have to figure it out. You have to go on stage and know it’s going to be OK. It’s the cohesiveness of the team and realizing it’s not all about you. It can’t be. It absolutely cannot be. It has to be about everyone,” she said.
Wright believes that being in a musical helps students do well in other aspects of their lives.
“I feel that the kids who do music and musicals are more successful. For whatever reason, they do better. They learn to manage their time. They learn to work with people better. They have these skills,” she said.
Weight says that interest in her plays among high school youth has increased recently, and she’s noticed more students auditioning and helping with the school’s yearly production.
“Some kids must like it. They keep coming back. I’ve got eight or 10 kids who have never been in a play before, and they came out this year. That’s pretty cool,” she said.
For more information on the upcoming play, call the high school at 208-624-3416.