Where's the star? He's in the ice bath!

CRAZY FOR YOU. Tom Chambers 'Bobby' and Company. Richard Davenport.
CRAZY FOR YOU. Tom Chambers 'Bobby' and Company. Richard Davenport.

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 Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from November 21-25. 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, including I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Embraceable You, 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 most 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.”

As for the role: “I think the challenge for me is the sheer physicality of it all.”

Crazy For You charts the troubled love story of Bobby, son of a wealthy New York banking family and frustrated Broadway hoofer, and Polly, daughter of the proprietor of a failing theatre in Deadrock, Nevada. Sent to close the theatre down, Bobby falls for Polly and, in the guise of a Hungarian impresario, decides to save the theatre by putting on a show.

“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 on top of that.”

As for Tom, he 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.

Small wonder looking after himself and paying attention to nutrition count for so much. 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.

But really, it’s just a question of professionalism for Tom. He managed 500 appearances in Top Hat, but the one performance he remembers most is the one he didn’t give – the only one he missed through injury with a lower lumbar locked and twisted and no osteopath to hand.

“I just hate letting people down!”

So as we sip our interval drinks, let’s all spare a thought for Tom...

Tickets for Crazy for You (21 - 25 November 2017) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk.