PERRY — If you simply can’t get enough of Gershwin brothers tunes — memorable songs like “Embraceable You,” “They Can’t Take that Away from Me” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” — have we got a musical for you.
“Crazy for You” opens Friday, Aug. 24, at Heritage Theatre, in Perry.
“It’s kind of a celebration of the Gershwin songbook — George and Ira’s most famous songs,” said Jennifer Hunsaker, who with Brianna Taylor is co-directing the production.
Billed as “The New Gershwin Musical Comedy,” the 1992 Broadway musical was largely based on the brothers’ 1930 musical “Girl Crazy,” with some of their other songs mixed in. It won the 1992 Tony Award for best musical.
The play tells the story of Bobby Child, who is sent to foreclose on a rundown theater in Deadrock, Nevada. He falls for Polly Baker, the daughter of the theater owner, then disguises himself as a producer and stages a production to save the failing theater.
For Hunsaker, it’s her second time directing at Heritage; for Taylor, it’s her directorial debut. Hunsaker said the two women have been friends for 14 years, and for much of that time they’ve talked of putting on “Crazy for You.”
“And finally, the stars aligned just right,” Hunsaker said.
Why this particular musical?
“It’s always been at the forefront for us,” Hunsaker said. “We knew we wanted to do a tap-dancing show, and one that threw back to the Depression era.”
Hunsaker says she grew up listening to the Gershwin standards — on vinyl albums like “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook.”
“I had a dream of being Polly up on stage, singing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me,’” she said. “Directing it is the next-best thing.”
For Taylor, “Crazy for You” was the first musical she took part in, back in high school.
“So we’re both approaching this from a nostalgia perspective,” Hunsaker said.
Hunsaker said it’s been a long road — and “an enormous amount of work” — bringing the production to the stage.
“We started the audition process back in May, with the idea that we needed to teach tap to an entire cast,” she said. “There’ll be a lot of humor, and a lot of tap dancing. And we had to teach an entire cast to tap dance, which is always fun.”
Hunsaker said tap dancing is becoming a lost art.
“When we put out the audition notice asking for tap experience, we didn’t get much response,” she said.
Still, Hunsaker said the cast came “willing to learn and to work hard.” For example, one of the cast members is an ophthalmologist in Brigham City, and he spent all of his time in between patients learning the steps.
“Every spare minute at work, he does his footwork,” she said.
The musical continues through Sept. 15 at the theater at 2505 S. Highway 89, in Perry.