The Upper School Drama Club performed in a one night only concert production of Crazy for You at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center at 8 p.m. on Sunday, February 19. The production was directed by Crazy for You’s original 5-time Tony winning choreographer, Susan Stroman. The musical director was the amazing Kevin Stites (Les Miserables, Titanic, Radio City Music Hall) This was, to the day it opened on Broadway, the 25th anniversary of the show. Crazy for You was not really a concert—it was a re-creation of the entire show, complete with the original choreography.
The concert featured the New York Philharmonic—and a 240 member chorus from across the U.S. and internationally. We were part of the chorus—our journey began 5 years ago when GDS first auditioned for Manhattan Concert Productions (the concert’s producer) for their inaugural Broadway series concert, Ragtime. GDS performed in Ragtime and was invited back for their production of Parade 2 years ago. Our group has excelled at each concert—in behavior, professionalism, and preparedness.
This year’s group was no exception. Our group of 18 prepared for the concert during Winter Term. Thank you to all who made this wonderful trip and experience available for our students. The students who participated were Kayla Rafkin '20, Hayley Rafkin '17, Davis Dunham '17, Gray Rucker '18, Meg Bennett '19, Katie Barton '19, Morgan Winstead '18, Penny Hazlett '18, Jake Breeden '19, Will Zhang '17, Laura Tutterow '17, Desmond McIntyre '17, Emily Brown '17, Mary Brown '19, Caroline Moore '17, Juliette Matthews '18, Kennedy Boston '19, and Avery Blue '17.
Most of our time in New York was spent in rehearsal. Denise Johnson and Ruthie Tutterow also prepared with and sang in the chorus. On a Broadway show, there are a lot of tweaks and changes, and actors have to be able to adapt and learn quickly. We were given three pages of musical polishes, tweaks and cuts shortly before going to NYC that we were expected to have down the first day! We went through the entire show at our first rehearsal, and were given “choral-ography” by Susan Stroman and her assistants. The main cast had already been rehearsing for two weeks, and they were added in at our second rehearsal. Most of our rehearsals (unlike past concerts) were with the main cast, culminating in a technical rehearsal at Lincoln Center the afternoon of the concert, and the concert itself on Sunday night.
However, while we were there to work, we also packed in some sightseeing! We were invited by GDS alumnus Kara Medoff Barnett, executive director of American Ballet Theatre, to come visit their studio, and were able to sit in on an amazing rehearsal of a new ballet. We visited the new Freedom Tower and went to their observation deck. We went to two Broadway shows—Dear Evan Hansen and School of Rock. The stage managers of School of Rock (Bonnie Becker and Julie Devore) are UNCG graduates, and came to talk to us after the performance of School of Rock about working on a technically complex show with lots of kids!
We also want to thank a GDS Board of Trustees member, Cathy Levinson, who invited us for pizza between our tech rehearsal and the concert on Sunday night. We also spent some time shopping, dining out, and went to a cast party at Planet Hollywood after the show. The concert itself was a jaw-dropping experience! It was sold-out, and the love from the theatre-savvy audience, which was attended by multiple celebrities, original Crazy for You cast members, and the Broadway community, was palpable. Many of the student’s parents attended, including Will Zhang 17’s parents from China!
There were many show-stopping moments, and a standing ovation after ACT ONE! And of course again after Act Two! The show concluded with a lovely speech from Susan Stroman where she dedicated the performance to her late husband, who she met doing the original production. An impromptu final moment came when Harry Groener, who originated the lead role, hugged and congratulated Tony Yazbeck, who was truly inspiring and brilliant in the all-tapping, singing role of “Bobby.” Some in the theatre community are calling for this cast to revive the show on Broadway—I agree! It was two hours of total joy!
Enjoy some highlights, pictures, and videos from the concert: