‘Crazy for You’ – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

The evening before I had walked along an eerily deserted road in my neighbourhood to the sole shop that was open after 6pm, wondering what was happening in my city, so it is perhaps not surprising that I had a moment’s pause at the prospect of a night at the theatre in central London.

It wasn’t that I expected trouble in Regent’s Park; it was the journey home.  The random pattern of the outbreaks of violence had put everyone on edge; something might ‘kick off’ (the new vocabulary of the moment) anywhere it seemed.

But my pause was only for a moment; and then that London spirit that’s being mentioned in all the news reports ‘kicked in’ (an altogether more positive use of the ‘kick’ construction) and I resolved to be undeterred by the mob.

And a very jolly evening I had too.  It is the first time I have seen a whole production at Regent’s Park Theatre, as previous attempts were cut short by rain; so it was doubly satisfying.

Maybe it is true that the more serious the times, the more enjoyable the musical, the more pleasure there is in a daft story, great tunes, sparkly costumes and ebullient dancing.

The Open Air theatre is an atmospheric location, a semi circular arena surrounded by high trees which susserate when the breeze is gentle and positively rumble when the wind picks up and casts stray leaves onto the stage.  Every seat was taken by an audience swept along with the exuberance of the show, a collection of great Gershwin songs strung together in consciously silly a reworking of the ‘let’s put on a show’ mythology of Broadway in Hollywood, with lots of dancing and clever choreography.

Set primarily in the town of Deadrock Nevada, a run down formerly prosperous mining town, ‘only’ an hour’s walk from the nearest railroad, the staging makes the most of its set of a ramshackle Hotel/Saloon and the theatre long since used only as the post office, revolving it this way and that to take us inside and out.

The bright and breezy cast dance on pick axes, gold panning dishes, in a tin bath and mimic double basses; they have fake gun fights, they high kick and tap dance for all they’re worth, and the audience’s feet tap and heads nod along with the fun.

My only quibble would be with the general awfulness of the American accents of some of the supporting cast, but the experience made me smile, and I left the theatre wishing I could dance along the road all the way home.

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4 Comments

  1. Jill

     /  August 12, 2011

    In 1982 or 83 I saw a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Regent’s Park. I still recall the magic.
    PS. The riots are getting HUGE coverage here, which partly has the effect (intended or not) of minimising the violence and strikes and crime that we experience. What a world.

    Reply
    • Hi Jill. I understand that quite a lot of foreign press coverage is taking some pleasure in highlighting the violence here. But thank goodness it seems to be abating now and without the use of bullets, tear gas or water canon.

      Reply
  2. Jill Goldberg

     /  August 14, 2011

    No bullets? Not even rubber ones? Ah, a foreign country then… !

    Reply

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