Fine Arts Center Theatre Company director Tim Muldrew began rehearsals for his latest show six weeks ago with a decision between a delicious dessert or a tasty chicken entrée.
His "waiter" was actually the 27-member, tap-dancing-cowboy cast of the upcoming production Crazy for You.
"Life's a smorgasbord," Muldrew had said to his tap-dancing cowboys, "and today I want the marshmallow surprise or the orange chicken."
To clarify: It wasn't a scrumptious treat Muldrew was searching for from the actors, but inspiration and options.
Throughout May, Muldrew and crew will show off how they chose to re-create the original choreography of the variety show, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical in 1992 and includes a slew of classic Gershwin tunes.
"In the beginning of the rehearsal process, I encourage them to give me as many choices as possible," Muldrew says. "This gives them the freedom to really play with their characters and to find what works and what does not. It's great fun."
Muldrew, a 34-year theater veteran, exudes a lovin'-life enthusiasm that closely mirrors the passion of the show's main character, Bobby Child (played by Michael Gold, last seen on the Theatre Company stage in The Music Man), who wants nothing more than to be a dancer. His family is involved in the banking industry and doesn't support his desire to perform, but with the help of 10 tapping cowboys, eight follies girls and eight other principal characters, Child may stand a chance at saving a rundown theater and living out his dream.
Muldrew describes the show as the "perfect blend of song, book and dance — a rare balance."
Public tap classes were held weeks before auditions because of the tap-heavy choreography, Muldrew says, and he found no shortage of talent. In fact, he expects to see many more tappers in the Springs after the show starts.
"I think every member of the audience will be tap dancing down Dale Street, humming a Gershwin tune as they go to their car."