While you sip your red wine in the interval, spare a thought for the star of the show. Tom Chambers will be spending the interval in his ice bath.
Tom is playing Bobby in Crazy For You, which tours to Brighton Theatre Royal from May 29-June 2. He unhesitatingly labels it the most physically demanding show he has ever done.
The show comes billed as the ultimate feel-good musical with a score from the Gershwin brothers’ songbook. Mistaken identities, plot twists, heartbreak, happiness and a wealth of memorable tunes all feature in an exhilarating celebration of the great Broadway musicals.
Tom first saw it as a 15-year-old back in 1992: “And I remember thinking to myself ‘If I only ever get to play one role in musical theatre, please, please let it be Bobby from Crazy For You!’”
As he says, it brings together all the perfect ingredients into the sweetest mix: “It has got all the humour and comedy and the tap-dancing and the Gerswhins’ music. I think Gerswhin is the best musical theatre composer to dance to. It’s just great, jazzy, dancy tunes. I didn’t realise back then in 1992 that it had only been put together in 1990, and it has got such brilliant one-liners from that decade, things from When Harry Met Sally and Die Hard and so on – really great, quirky one-liners. And they are so funny. But it is strange... I am finding that not as many people know as much about Crazy for You as I do. It is not that instant recognition that you would get, say, from Miss Saigon, coming to town.”
“It is the classic boy meets girl but the beauty of this one is the way he goes about it, dressing up in disguise and she falls in love with the disguise which complicates things! But the lovely thing is that there is an insane collection of talent in the cast. They are playing all the music live on stage. There is no pit. Every actor is playing an instrument, so they were wanting people who could play violin to grade 8 but can also sing and tap dance. And then you have got the wonderful Gerswhin score.”
As for the role: “I think the challenge for me is the sheer physicality of it all.”
Tom is climbing; he is jumping on boxes, jumping on pianos; he is tap-dancing on various levels; he is swinging on ropes and balconies. As he says, this is effectively Tarzan meets Gene Kelly. Nutrition and looking after himself count for a lot.
“You need the electrolytes, not the fizzy drinks. And you need the ice bath in the interval, a great way to reduce inflammation and prevent muscle tears.”