Prepping for opening night, the Scarborough High School cast loves the classic Gershwin tunes.
With “Crazy for You,” director Jon Miele continues his string of bringing shows loaded with favorite Broadway tunes and big dance numbers to the stage at Scarborough High School.
“Crazy for You,” which won the Tony for Best Musical when it debuted in 1992, is built around classic Gershwin numbers, from the high octane “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Slap that Bass,” to more contemplative ballads like “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Embraceable You.”
The show opens at the Winslow Homer Auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 3, with a cast of about 40 students and another dozen or so working backstage. For the first time since he began directing the annual fall musical at Scarborough High, Miele has double-cast the leads and expanded to 10 performances across two weekends.
“There’s a lot of talent in Scarborough,” he said this week about why he decided to mount the show with two different student pairs playing the leads.
Sophomores Claire Merrill and Liam Corcoran, one of the pairs, will be on stage opening night.
The next night, Hallie Scammell, a senior, and Sam Laro, a junior, will take their turn at playing the lead characters of Polly Baker and Bobby Child. Laro is also taking on the role of assistant director for this production after working with Miele in the recent “Little Shop of Horrors” show at Windham Center Stage.
In addition to double-casting the leads, Miele said “Crazy for You” features a number of new faces and fresh talent, including Corcoran’s brother, Brennan, a senior. This is the Corcoran brothers’ first appearance in any stage production.
The plot of “Crazy for You,” sends stage-struck Bobby from New York City to a small town in Nevada, where a theater owned by his mother has failed to pay the mortgage. She sends Bobby there to foreclose, but when he falls in love with the theater and the local postmistress, Polly, he instead chooses to put on a show to try to save the historic building. There’s also a bit of identity confusion and a strong love story.
Set in the 1930s, the show includes a set that’s “as big and complex as we’ve ever had,” according to Miele, along with authentic period costumes and a pit band of 10, which will include five students and five professional musicians.
Merrill and Scammell said their singing and acting styles are very different, so that audiences will see a “noticeable difference,” between the two, according to Merrill.
“We are very different singers and play the character differently,” Merrill said, although both appreciate that Polly is a smart, witty and independent woman.
“Hallie is more of a singer, and I enjoy the acting more. It’s a fun role, but it’s also definitely challenging,” Merrill added.
For Scammell the “iconic music is the best part. The show is really built around the music.”
But, according to Merrill, “Crazy for You” is also a “really well-written show and when you pay attention to the dialogue, there are some really funny lines.”
Both girls like Act II. It includes the number, “I’ve Got Rhythm,” which Merrill calls the “torch song” of the whole show and “a high-energy, really awesome number that doesn’t get old.”
Scammell’s favorite is “Someone to Watch Over Me,” a song “my grandfather used to sing to my mother,” which makes it extra special. Overall, she said, “The music is so iconic we just want to do it justice.”
Laro is also a fan of the music.
“It’s a compilation of all of the Gershwins’ best music,” he said, “so as a Broadway fan, I can’t help but like it. It’s a classic show that can’t go wrong.”
Laro said he had to “read really far into the script to find Bobby’s redeeming qualities,” but said what he likes best about the character is that “he learns about himself and takes an interesting journey.”
His favorite number in the show is “I Can’t be Bothered,” and said his biggest challenge so far has been learning to tap dance, which he’d never done before being cast as Bobby.
Liam Corcoran said “Crazy for You” combines some “really upbeat music” with a “good story.” His favorite number is “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” which takes place in Act II and is a defining moment in the Bobby and Polly love story.
He was surprised to be cast as one of the leads and was initially unsure he could do it. But he took both voice and dance lessons during the summer and began working with Miele in July to get ready.
“I’m honored to work with this cast,” he said.
Abe Jordan, a junior who has appeared in all the fall musicals since he entered high school, called the cast “a good group” that’s gotten “really close” through the course of rehearsing.
The other cast members include Annie Lee, a junior, who plays Bobby’s mother, Lottie Child; juniors Thomas Vachon and Bella Ingram, who play British tourists; Hayden Motter, a senior, who plays Polly’s father, Everett Baker; Lizzie Hobbs, another senior, who plays Tess, the dance captain for the Zengler Follies; and Brennan Corcoran, who plays Bela Zengler.
Brennan Corcoran said the hardest part for him has been perfecting the Hungarian accent of Zengler, which he also must sing with. He watched the various versions of “Crazy for You” on YouTube and listened to music from the show, as well, in his effort to learn the accent.
For several members of the cast, the number, “What Causes That?” is their favorite. It features Bobby pretending to be Zengler, mirroring the actual Zengler.
Corcoran said the number is one of his favorites because there are not many show tunes written for a bass singer. He also enjoys interacting with both of the other actors who play Bobby.
“It’s a different number with each one (of them). It’s just really fun and entertaining,” he said.
In all, Hobbs said, this production of “Crazy for You,” has “all of the razzle, dazzle of those old-time Broadway shows.”
A closer look
“Crazy for You” opens on Thursday, Nov. 3, at Scarborough High School. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students, faculty and seniors. Show times are 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, 4, and 5, and again on Nov. 10, 11, and 12. There will also be four matinees, at 1 p.m., on Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13.
The double-cast leads in Scarborough High School’s production of “Crazy for You” are, in back, junior Sam Laro and senior Hallie Scammell, and sophomores Liam Corcoran and Claire Merrill, in front. Laro and Corcoran play Bobby Child, and Scammell and Merrill play Polly Baker.
“Crazy for You” won the Tony for Best Musical when it debuted on Broadway in 1992. The show includes some of George and Ira Gershwins’ greatest hits.