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Crazy about Gershwin? This is your show

Weighed down with worries? Relax and start dancing.

That's what Bobby Child does in the delightful retro musical "Crazy For You," now running at Modesto High School.

Child is a rich heir to a banking fortune who would rather tap dance on stage than worry about finances. He travels from New York to Deadrock, Nev., to foreclose on a theater but ends up putting on a show instead and falling in love in the process.

Filled with such familiar Gershwin songs as "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "Crazy For You" won the Tony Award for best musical in 1992. Ken Ludwig loosely based the show on the 1930 musical "Girl Crazy."

Modesto Performing Arts' production, which features a large, young, local cast and two leads from New York, received a standing ovation at its opening performance Sunday afternoon.

Director Paul Tischer offers wholesome G-rated fun for every age.

Jody Madaras lights up the stage as the perpetual optimist Bobby Child. Tall, lanky and light on his feet, he tap dances up a storm with a smile on his face. He also has some funny bits when he goes in disguise as famous impresario Bela Zangler.

Natalie Wisdom, the other Actors' Equity Association member in the cast, shows off a big voice and a winning personality as his co-star and love interest Polly Baker. One of the show highlights is her lovely rendition of the ballad "Someone to Watch Over Me."

Nine pretty chorus girls wearing matching blond curly wigs and pink sparkly dresses partner with an equal number of cowboys in the show. Costumer Gini Vyborney makes sure everyone looks colorful and attractive.

Debbie Holtzclaw's choreography includes the showstoppper "Slap that Bass," featuring some of the girls posing as stand-up basses and being "played" by male cast members.

The dancers for the most part show a lot of skill, but some could show more enthusiasm and smile more.

Dave Cooper offers some sharp words as Lank Hawkins, a Deadrock saloon owner who wants to shut down the theater. Crystal Backoff is equally brusque as Irene, a society woman who tries to marry Bobby. Grace Lieberman gets laughs as Bobby's overbearing mother.

Ray Leverett is sweet as Polly's devoted father and John Short is befuddled as Zangler. Marty Cox and Rebecca Sanders add a touch of class in brief appearances as travel guide writers Eugene and Patricia Fodor.

The orchestra, led by musical director Darrel Lingenfelter, offers lively accompaniment.

As is unfortunately too common with MPA productions, there are some occasional problems with echoing or hissing mikes.

But Tischer's sets look wonderful, from the New York City backdrop to Deadrock's sleepy streets and the large saloon.

Fans of vintage musicals and escapist entertainment will go crazy over "Crazy For You."

Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at lmillegan@modbee.com or 578-2313.

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