Friday, 26 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Twenty-Six: Crazy For You

Seen here, with Neil.

So in 2011, The Housemate and I decided to go to the West End.  I think this was because I had a theatre giftcard that was about to run out and I had to pick something to see.  (The problem is always a wealth of choice, rather than the opposite.)

Anyway after looking at what was on and at how expensive it all was even with a giftcard and asking theatre-friends’ advice on what would be my kinda thing,

for some reason I plumped for

Betty Blue Eyes (book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, music by George Stiles, lyrics by Anthony Drewe, based on the Handmade film 'A Private Function' and the original story by Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray, adapted from the screenplay by Alan Bennett/Novello Theatre, Aldwych, London/11th August 2011)

which would have been a better idea if someone had finished drafting the script before it reached the stage.  It was okay in parts, or rather as a whole it was okay with hints of something better, just the whole show felt like it wasn’t finished yet.  If they had worked on it some more, made it more coherent and had all the plot elements go somewhere and all the characters be relevant and really try for some proper showstoppers, then it could have been a great show.  But it seems these days that musicals are rushed out on to stage before they have been perfected.  I know that previews are part of the process in rounding off a show, but you don’t do them on the West End, guys.

Interesting Fact: This show had Jack Edwards in it, who I last saw in the amateur production of Titanic I mentioned the other day.

And since we were in London and staying with him, The Butler got us comps to

Crazy For You (music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, book by Ken Ludwig, co-conception by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent, inspired by material by Guy Bolton and John McGowan/Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre/12th August 2011)

because he was working at the theatre.  I can’t say a jukebox musical of random Gershwin tunes sounded like a fascinating idea, but for free I wasn’t complaining.  I had never been to a proper open air theatre before so didn’t know what to expect.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is one of the snobbiest places I have ever been, filled with people in full evening dress drinking expensive wines and eating canapés.  While we wandered amongst them with our free tickets and casual attire. 

And here’s what I leaned.  Seeing theatre outdoors surrounded by trees and weather and the night sky is a MUST.  It adds EVERYTHING.  It’s an AMAZING experience, unlike any other.  At the end, when the lights (in the shape of stars) were moving across the trees, it was like the sky was falling, it was like nothing I’d seen before.

Crazy For You is not an interesting show – the songs have been rammed together without design and the plot is unbelievably derivative (a western and a putting-on-a-show story, gah!) but put it outdoors and it’s freaking awesome!

And if it rains, apart for adding great amusement as you realise how stupid people are

If you brought waterproofs, why didn’t you just put them on before the show started?
And once they're on, LEAVE THEM ON.

then you are sharing the experience with the actors and they’ll try to add as many references as they can about the weather and the audience will go wild for them, and watching acrobatic dancing in increasingly dangerous conditions just makes it EXCITING.

And the best part of this story?

We had tickets for the Balcony for Betty Blue Eyes (even though this would set off The Housemate’s fear of heights), because we couldn’t afford anything better.  And we got upgraded to the Dress Circle.  That’s TWO WHOLE levels lower.

And then we went to Regent’s Park, which we weren’t even paying for, and we only got upgraded to the best freaking seats in the house!

What are the chances of getting upgraded from awful seats to best seats in two separate theatres two days running?!


Have you seen any open-air shows?


  1. More specifically, Betty Blue Eyes had Reece Shearsmith playing a guy with specific dreams and aspirations, which he sang about occasionally. This sounds very generic - and it is - but it's also a whopping great reminder of The Producers, where he played Leo, who... see above. This time it was I Wanna Be A Chiropodist, or something. To be honest, I've forgotten the rest of the show, apart from a bit where a urinal comes up out of the ground. Oh, and Jack Edwards sang the titular love song to a pig, which was very funny. And Sarah Lancashire was in it - she had a crap role in Doctor Who once, but she's very entertaining.

    Crazy For Your was the ultimate style-over-substance theatre trip - the cast were a hoot, but honestly, any show might have come up trumps in that arena. I'd recommend the theatre...

    1. Yes, I recall the show was so successful that it moved to an indoor theatre - which is dumb, as it would lose everything that made it so special.

      As for Betty, I remember a scene with an air raid and not much else.


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