At first glance, George and Ira Gershwin’s classic show “Crazy for You” seems a lot older than it is. Its base is built from the catalogue of arguably the greatest brother duo songwriting team in music history, a team who owned the 20s and 30s.The show’s three Tony Awards, including the coveted Best Musical prize of 1992, solidified the show as a great new piece using lots of old pieces. New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich even said at the time, “As soon as the overture begins, you know that the creators of this show have new and thrilling ideas and are determined to make us hear familiar songs as if for the first time.”
Bay Area Musicals is dipping their toes in these classic waters, with their production opening Saturday, Nov. 10th at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco.
Danielle Altizio is not someone who grew up listening to the Gershwins. She also isn’t someone who grew up with parents who gathered the family around in order to listen to Broadway albums on Sunday mornings. For her, taking a drama class as a 14-year-old freshman piqued her interest in the musical theatre genre, and she dove in with a quickness.
Now 19, Altizio is plying her craft at UC Berkeley, where she is double-majoring in theatre and sociology. And for this show, she is playing the fierce and spirited spitfire Polly, a woman in a man’s world whose ferocity is equaled only by her talent.
As a young woman herself, there’s an empathy and connection that Altizio has worked to find and apply to her own performance.
“Polly is discovering her own femininity and is falling in love,” said Altizio. “It’s not a coming of age story, but more a story of embracing who she is as a woman. She’s in a small town in the middle of Nevada, doesn’t have her mother around, but she’s going on the journey she wants to be going on, as a young woman.”
One thing that Altizio has marveled at in the process of constructing her interpretation is Polly’s confidence. The ability for her to take charge and create her own narrative is something Altizio continues to strive for in her own dealings.
“Polly doesn’t let anything stop her from saying she’s in love, and she doesn’t care who sees her kissing anyone,” said Altizio. “That degree of confidence and her inability to let things shake the way she feels is inspiring.
“I would love to emulate that, the ability to trust my gut when making important decisions. We question ourselves so much, but what I’ve learned from Polly is to really trust myself in decision making, and trust in the direction I’m going.”
The one thing Altizio doesn’t do much of in the show is dance, although there’s a ton of it. She does her share, which she thoroughly enjoys. But whether she’s dancing with her leading man or hunkering down to sing one of the show’s signature standards, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” she knows she needs to be on.
“You really have to sit with the character and breathe with it, and I really ask myself, how is she going to move through each moment of her life,” said Altizio. “Polly is a very skilled woman with different emotions, and making sure I am looking at every single second of her story is important to me.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
Bay Area Musicals Presents “Crazy for You”
Written by George and Ira Gershwin
Directed by Matthew McCoy
Nov. 10th – Dec. 16th
The Alcazar Theatre
650 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tickets range from $35 – $100
For tickets, visit www.bamsf.org