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Loopy For You on the Gillian Lynne Theatre evaluation – a joyous love letter to old style American showbiz

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This scrumptious confection of a musical banishes the cares of the world with elegant songs and dynamic faucet routines. A Gershwin-scored boy-meets-girl story and a love letter to old-school American showbiz, it’s fronted with brio by boyish, buoyant Charlie Stemp as Bobby Youngster, the Melancholy-era banking inheritor who desires of being a Broadway hoofer.

Susan Stroman created a brand new dance vocabulary for the primary manufacturing in 1992 and directs and choreographs this revival, which began at Chichester Pageant Theatre final yr and arrives within the West Finish with razzle-dazzle to spare. It’s a pleasure: simply don’t squint on the plot too exhausting.

The present is a do-over of George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930 movie musical Lady Loopy, for which author Ken Ludwig customary a brand new narrative. Bobby is distributed by his bossy ma (and pursued by his importunate fiancée Irene) to defunct Nevada mining city Deadrock to foreclose on its theatre. As a substitute, he falls in love with the proprietor’s daughter Polly (Carly Anderson) and decides to win her coronary heart – and save the city – by impersonating Hungarian impresario Bela Zangler and placing on his personal model of the Ziegfield Follies.

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The cuckoo economics of this plan drew bleak titters from the theatre folks within the viewers on opening evening. Credibility is additional stretched as Bobby and Polly are manoeuvred into infinite creative dance routines and the true Zangler (Tom Edden) inevitably turns up.

Loopy For You on the Gillian Lynne Theatre / Johan Persson

Ludwig augments nice songs from the unique – together with Embraceable You and I Obtained Rhythm – with bangers culled from different components of the Gershwin brothers’ again catalogue. Generally the plot is bent to suit them. Natalie Kassanga’s Irene is saved hanging round purely so she will ship a breathy, fruity model of Naughty Child; she does it superbly, thoughts.

However the genius of Ludwig, Stroman and authentic director Mike Ockrent was to infuse this rickety construction with the wisecracking dialogue and heedless, who-cares-if-it-makes-sense power of a lot American interwar leisure. So we don’t simply get dazzling New York showgirl costumes and parodies of Western saloon bar fights, however the kind of sly dialogue that existed earlier than the Hays Code censored Hollywood in 1934.

Bobby seems at Polly “like a cow who wants milking”. Informed that Polly is the one lady in Deadrock, Irene remarks: “I suppose that’s why she seems so drained.” There’s bodily comedy harking back to Bugs Bunny or Tex Avery cartoons. The scene the place the true and faux Zengler mirror one another, each drunk and despondent, is pure Marx Brothers.

It wouldn’t work with out the whole conviction of the forged, who carry equal sincerity to corny strains and to beautiful dance routines that rope in pickaxes and prospecting pans. The sketchiness of Beowulf Borrit’s set turns into a advantage, the forged pulling off corrugated iron panels to tapdance on or forming themselves into Ziegfield-esque constructions. Edden delivers an outrageous comedian flip as Zangler. Anderson has a shiny, daring voice and loads of sass.

Most significantly, she and Stemp appear to defy gravity after they dance. The present has a delirious weightlessness: for 150 minutes, you’re lifted out of care, and logic. How becoming that it’s within the first main London theatre to be named after a choreographer. Broadway hits don’t at all times translate to London however this present does the enterprise.

Gillian Lynne Theatre, reserving to January 20, 2024; ebook tickets right here

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