“The whole thing is just bizarre to me,” says Harry Groener at rehearsal Manhattan Concert Productions’ presentation of Crazy for You at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall. “All of a sudden, 25 years later… Then you think, ‘It’s been 25 years?’ It is surreal, but at the same time, it is so familiar.”
Of course it’s familiar to Groener. The actor originated Bobby Child (now played by Tony Yazbeck), a song-and-dance man who travels to the town of Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a rundown theatre—but instead decides to put on a show disguised as theatrical impresario Bela Zangler. Now, 25 years to the day Crazy for You opened on Broadway, Groener plays Zangler.
“Zangler, who was originally played by Bruce Adler, was a real vaudeville comedian,” explains original choreographer Susan Stroman, who now helms the concert. “I needed someone that had that in him—who had it in his bones—and I thought, ‘Who is that? Who could that be?’ Then it just dawned on me. It’s Harry Groener. He’s the guy to do it, and I called him and said, ‘How would you feel about coming back to do this?’ He jumped on it right away. It’s been thrilling.
However, reliving Crazy for You has been a lot more emotional than he expected.
“To be back in this show is just dreamy,” he says. “To be back in the room with Susan… Tears would start coming down because of the memories that are there. I see Laura and Tony doing the dances, and it’s just so beautiful and so wonderful, but it’s very emotional. Today we’re sitting in rehearsal, and I watched [Yazbeck] sing ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me,’ and then [Osnes] goes into [‘But Not For Me’]… I just started crying.
“I realized I can’t watch that scene because I have a scene right after it, and I was a total wreck. I couldn’t remember lines. I couldn’t do anything because I was watching that scene. It is very emotional, and it’s a real joy, and I’m very happy that I can be part of this.”