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Entertainment & Arts

Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman to revive ‘Crazy for You’ in L.A.

Susan Stroman in 2012, during a rehearsal break for the musical “The Scottsboro Boys.”
Susan Stroman in 2012, during a rehearsal break for the musical “The Scottsboro Boys.”
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

You could say Susan Stroman is crazy for the musical.

In 1992 Stroman launched her career by choreographing the original Broadway production of “Crazy for You,” a Wall Street-boy-meets-Main Street-girl romantic comedy with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. She snagged a Tony Award, her first of five.

Now Stroman is returning to that musical, directing and choreographing a new production that will make its pre-Broadway debut at the Ahmanson Theatre in February, Center Theatre Group is expected to announce Wednesday.

Stroman said the revival came about organically, as if it were “meant to be.” In February, she directed and choreographed a one-night concert performance of “Crazy for You” at the David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, presented by Manhattan Concert Productions. By coincidence, it was the 25th anniversary — to the night — of the “Crazy for You” debut on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre. As luck would have it, producer Joey Parnes happened to be in the Geffen audience.

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“It was such a success when we did it that night with the orchestra onstage,” Stroman says. “It was like a rock concert. You could tell people loved it and wanted to see it again. … Joey called the Ahmanson right away.”

With a book by two-time Tony nominee Ken Ludwig, “Crazy for You” is an ode to 1930s American musicals. The new production, to be produced by Center Theatre Group in association with Parnes, will feature reinvented sets, costumes and other design elements, Stroman says.

“I’m going to tweak the choreography. I always choreograph to the strengths of the actors, so it’ll be a totally new version,” she says.

The musical takes place in the fictional, despondent town of Deadrock, Nev., which undergoes a cultural revival when a New York actor stages a musical. The story is more relevant now than ever before, Stroman says.

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“It’s about how art and culture can make a town be reborn again, about the power of art, really,” she says. “All across America, we see these little towns that have faded away, either because their theater is gone, their museum is gone, their cultural center is gone. In the world we live in now, there’s a threat to the arts and there’s a threat in budgets being cut for cultural institutions. Once that happens, there’s a death in that community. So it’s important to remind people that art and culture keep a town alive, keep people alive.”

There’s no shortage of levity in “Crazy for You” though, Stroman says.

“It’s about romance and comedy and two lead characters who are very headstrong, opposites in many ways,” she says. “It’s pure fun.”

Stroman directed and choreographed Mel Brooks’ and Thomas Meehan’s 2001 Broadway adaptation of “The Producers,” which earned her two Tony Awards in both categories — two of the record 12 Tonys the production earned. “Contact,” which Stroman co-created, directed and choreographed for Lincoln Center Theater, won Tonys for best musical and choreography in 2000. She’s directed and choreographed work for the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the New York City Ballet.

“Crazy for You” is part of a 2017-18 Ahmanson season that also includes “The Red Shoes,” “Bright Star,” “Something Rotten!” “Soft Power” and “The Humans.” “Crazy for You” will run Feb. 7 through March 18.

The producers hope to bring the production to Broadway later in 2018, although no date or theater has yet been set.

deborah.vankin@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @debvankin

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