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Gainesville Theatre Alliance offers behind-the-scenes tour of musical production
‘Crazy for You’ opens Nov. 7 at Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre
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Cast members perform a number from the Gainesville Theatre Alliance’s upcoming production of “Crazy for You” during a stage tour Oct. 24 at Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre in Gainesville. - photo by David Barnes

The Gainesville Theatre Alliance’s director, choreographer, music director and set, sound, lighting and costume designers were under the spotlight Oct. 24 while giving audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the production of “Crazy for You.” 

‘Crazy for You’

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7-11, 14-18, 2:30 p.m. Nov. 12 and 18

Where: Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre

Tickets: $28-30 adults, $26-28 seniors (65 and up), $18-20 students

More information: www.gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org, or call GTA Box Office at 678-717-3624 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

The GTA Stage Tour in Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre offered the public a free peek at the magic behind the dances, songs and sets of the Gershwin musical.

“I am always excited to do stage tours because it gives audience members the opportunity to come in and see us in the trenches,” said Jim Hammond, artistic director of GTA. “We do this two weeks away from opening night so that you can not only get a glimpse of what the work looks like in terms of how we put the show together, but then you get to come back two weeks later and see how it evolved into an opening night performance.”Director and Choreographer Barbara Hartwig discussed the challenges of production having difficult classic musical numbers and 25 cast members with limited dance experience.

“This choreography is crazy hard,” Hartwig said. “I had a great experience learning the choreography and now I have had the pleasure of setting it on the students. I have to tell you, these students are troopers. It is not easy and I have challenged them beyond belief, and they are doing a fantastic job. They have worked extremely hard.”

Hartwig said unlike most musicals, “Crazy for You” has three to four huge production numbers per act. There are also more than 300 hand props used, many of which are used during the dances.

“They have incredible numbers that will take your breath away,” Hartwig said. “This show is enormous in every aspect: the set, dance numbers, singing and music.” 

Hoe down
Actors in "Crazy for You" pose in costume in front of a set from the musical being produced by the Gainesville Theatre Alliance. Photo courtesy Gainesville Theatre Alliance.

Costume Designer Pamela Workman said this production has been a collaborative art and discussed the Follie girl character costumes.

“We would not have this end product from the first sketch. It would have been completely different if Barbara and I hadn’t talked. This shows that we do not produce instant perfection, this went through a series of different sketches and notes,” Workman said. “It shows also that together we serve the show, director, designer and overall vision of this production to create what you will see in two weeks which is a beautiful thing.”

Standing in front of the massive set design showing off the musicals saloon in the town of Deadrock, Nevada, Set and Sound Designer Stuart Beaman said “the construction is usually something you don’t get to see.”

“It is one of those shows that just draws you in as a theater artist, you really just want to sink your teeth into it,” Beaman said. “The movement never stops. There is always something coming in or moving from left to right, upstage to downstage, all the while you have 16 to 20 people dancing.”

As the sound designer for this show, Beaman said they “have a really talented group of students” and all 25 actors in the show will be miked.

“Crazy for You, the music of Gershwin, it’s like champagne,” said Rick Gomez, music director. “It is something that came up in the 1930s during the Depression. It is a typical example of the type of music that you want to hear when you want a little escape.”

Gomez said the production will “let you escape for a few hours before going back out into the world.”

Assistant lighting designer to Kevin Frazer, Matthew Sand, said they received new technology including movers and LED back lights.

“It is going to look great. Kevin had to figure out how to light it that still honors the original show while making it his own show. All that new technology can become a limitation if we go overboard with it, it can take away from the show,” Sand said. “While doing lights we are in charge of creating a mood on stage. If we want to go into something sad, we use a lot of blues, for happier we use bright lights.”

For the first time in front of a crowd, a portion of the cast performed a scene featuring the song, “Slap that Base” at the stage tour.

“The show is one of the top five feel-good shows ever produced,” Hartwig said.

“Crazy for You” opens on Nov. 7 and runs through Nov. 18. Tickets are $28-30 for adults, $26-28 seniors (65 and up), and $18-20 for students, depending on seats. Patrons can select and purchase seats on the website, www.gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org, or by calling the GTA Box Office at 678-717-3624, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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