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Eugene Weekly : Theater : 8.4.11

 

Playboy Follies in the Sagebrush

Girl Crazy at the Hult Center

What’s your average NYC millionaire to do when his son won’t stop chasing the ladies? Ship him off to the family ranch in Arizona, where he’ll find nothing more than dusty cowboys and sagebrush. But no sooner does our boy land in Arizona than he’s inspired to import a flutter of chorus girls and open up a luxury dude ranch — thus raising havoc with the local yokels, the resident power structure and an exceptionally lovely mailgirl.

Written in 1930, Girl Crazy is a Gershwin delight. According to director Richard Jessup, this score is one of the best ever written. It certainly kept an opening night crowd enthralled, with show-stopping numbers such as “I Got Rhythm” and “Embraceable You.” The play is a touch long for its plot line (OFAM trimmed it down to just short of three hours), but audience interest remained vivid throughout. 

Wade Hicks is nicely showcased as Gieber Goldfarb, the misplaced, misused cab driver laying down the frequent one-liners and occasional Pig Latin. Matt Musgrove and Emma Sohlberg are wildly entertaining as Slick and Kate Fothergill. As Danny Churchill, Chas King rolls out the soul alongside his golden voice; watching him struggle to breath and keep his composure as his heart is broken elevates him from fine performer to convincing actor. And King is nicely matched by Shannon AJ Coltraine’s pragmatic Molly Gray.

Ultimately a series of remarkable song and dance numbers running neck-and-neck with a stream of goofy gags and groaner jokes, the 1930s social sensibilities of Crazy Girl sent me into the occasional cringe. Jessup does a nice job of keeping the script true to intention, while showing history’s faux pas for what they are in context.  

Girl Crazy is big, with a lot of characters, lots of songs and a lot going on. The Silva Concert Hall is big, too. Let’s fill it up for another OFAM offering in the history of musical theater. — Anna Grace

Girl Crazy plays through Aug. 12 at the Hult Center; info and tickets at www.theshedd.com