By Carlos Santana ’22
There has been something missing from Chaminade High School for the past two years: spectacle. Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the electric presence of the theater had been absent for far too long. So the question became: can it return? What if, like other institutions, the extended period away had dulled the the-ater’s gleam?
The chosen play was Crazy for You, a 1992 Tony-winning jukebox musical assembled from the Gershwin library. With a host of classic songs and strenuous dance numbers, the play was practically designed to challenge both performers and production to draw out their finest work.
The narrative follows Bobby Child, a banker who desires nothing more than to dance—despite the wishes of his mother and wealthy fiancé. Child was portrayed by Jack Jozefowski ‘22, who injected a crucial dose of charisma and stage presence.
The female lead Polly Baler, played by Brooke Cassatto, is a spunky country girl who strives to keep her father’s dying theater alive and spurns declarations of romantic love; that is, of course, until she shares her first dance number with Child.
When Jozefowski and Cassato danced during “Could You Use Me?” there was a chemistry fitting of a whirlwind romance. It was their performance, rather than dialogue or plot, that sold audiences on the heart of their relationship.
Beyond the leads, there were many other standout performances. Seamus Breslin ‘24, as Bela Zangler, offered a scene-stealing duet in “What Causes That?” The song examines the similarities between Child and Zangler in regards to their romantic failings. The two moved in a purposefully disorganized symmetry that, in combination with their excellent stage chemistry, defined an unforgettable number.
MaryKate Logner, playing Irene Roth, also took the opportunity to steal the show in her sole solo number, “Naughty Baby.” It was a triumphant display of twisted love, and Logner portrayed this exquisitely with her manipulative dance moves and mellifluous vocals.
The choreography, organized by Ms. Danielle Aliotta, was simply jaw-dropping. The sheer excitement present in “I Got Rhythm” alone was astonishing. The number combined unconventional props with near-perfect synchronization to create an experience that was simply mesmerizing.
Cowboys assembled into living towers of dance and Zangler girls spun on the tips of pickaxes; these were not mere actors and actresses on stage, but pieces of an expressive, motive machine.
Such a well-oiled machine requires blood and sweat to run smoothly. The production crew utilized lights, audio, and new stage displays to captivate its audience.
The pit band, meanwhile, performed their finest work at stage level, creating sound that matched the energy of the actors and actresses.
Mr. Michael Bruno ‘90, the theater director at Chaminade, reflected, “Judging by the audience’s response, Crazy for You was one of the most successful Darby Players’ productions in recent memory. The entire company took this material and ran with it. The cast, both leads and ensemble, worked tirelessly throughout the rehearsal process, often sacrificing days off to perfect the challenging choreography and vocals. The pit also rose to the occasion and mastered a score that was written for professional musicians. Finally, and not to be overlooked, the technical team seamlessly put everyone’s work together with a masterful sound and lighting design coupled with Chaminade’s new video wall technology.”
Sadly, this was the final curtain call for eight seniors. Throughout their years, Jozefowski, Cassatto, Logler, Dante Castellano ‘22, Anthony Kendric ‘22, Jordan Kramer, Harry Larson ‘22, and Sophia Scarpa have all served the theater with excellence. Their torch will be carried by the younger members who had the honor of performing alongside them.
“I’d like to especially congratulate this year’s senior class,” Bruno added, “for the past four years of effort and dedication, and I want to wish them all the best in their college careers.”
Overall, all aspects of production worked together to create an experience that was, indeed, spectacular. In a New York Times review of the original 1992 production, critic David Richards noted, “The story need not surprise us, merely allow the cast to charm us.” And charm us they did. Crazy for You is yet another worthy addition to the years of excellent performances by the Darby Players. Cheers to all that made it possible!