Behind the Curtain with Williston’s Upcoming Musical: “Crazy for You”


Crazy for You, this year’s spring show, has a little bit of everything: a love story, classic Gershwin tunes, mistaken identity, and a whole lot of tap dancing. The shows ran April 25-27 and May 2-4.

Over 50 Williston students worked alongside Emily Ditkovski, Director of Williston Theater; Charles Raffetto, Theatre Production and Facilities Manager; Ashley Tyler, Costume Designer; Colin Mann, Director of Choirs; and Debra Vega, Dance Teacher, both behind the scenes and on stage since December 4. This is the first year Williston had two musicals in a row, and shows were highly anticipated.

Crazy for You, according to Williston’s website, tells the story of “young New York banker Bobby Child, who is sent to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a rundown theater. In Deadrock, Bobby falls for spunky Polly Baker, the theater owner’s daughter. But Polly takes an instant dislike to the city slicker, so Bobby vows – through cunning, razzmatazz, and a hilarious case of mistaken identity – to win Polly’s heart and save the theatre.”

Louisa Weed, a junior from Holyoke, Mass., played Lucinda in last year’s production of Into the Woods. This year in Crazy for You she played Mitzi, a Follie dancer. Louisa’s role is filled with tricky choreography but her castmates are what keep her determined to nail the moves.

“I have been thrown into numerous tap dances consisting of sharp movements and difficult choreography,” Louisa said. “However, I have been able to dance with such an amazing group of people which motivates me to do my best.”

Prior to opening night, Louisa said, “This musical will make you fall into the story world consisting of comedy, friendships, and love. Plus, there are lots of talented singers and dancers that want to show you something we have worked so hard on and for so long!”

For Louisa, the best part of putting on Crazy for You is the distraction from her busy life outside of the theater.

“I think the best part of putting on Crazy for You would be the fact that I get to walk into the theater every night just before 6:30, set aside all my stress and thoughts, step on that stage, and perform for the fun of it,” she said.

The time-consuming rehearsal schedule was the hardest part of Crazy for You for Louisa, but it was worth the sacrifice, she said.

“The most challenging part of putting on Crazy for You has been my time management,” she said. “It has been quite tricky going from school, to sports, to rehearsal every single night; although, I wouldn’t have it another way.”

Sam Strout, a junior from Manchester, Mass., participated in a Williston show for the first time this spring. Ironically, Sam played a character also named Sam. The onstage Sam is a cowboy from Deadrock, Nevada, who is often seen chasing after women in the show. Sam is part of a “Cowboy Trio” who sing “Biding my time” and “The Real American Folk Song.”

Before opening night, Sam told The Willistonian, “People should come see the show because the cast and crew spend so much time working to make the show perfect,” he continued. “It will also be a truly amazing performance, our hard work shows through the production each year.”

The most challenging part of putting on Crazy for You for Sam was managing his school work and track practice, plus everything else that popped up — Sam is also a proctor in John Hazen White dorm.

“The best part of putting on Crazy for You has been getting to know the cast and crew and creating a whole host of memories and inside jokes, along with being able to improve yourself and those around you as singers, actors, and dancers,” Sam told The Willistonian.

Margaret Strange, a junior form Conway, Mass., participated in Crazy for You as an Assistant Stage Manager, and it was her 15th Williston show working behind the scenes. Some of Margaret’s responsibilities include, “[sitting] at the back of the house during the show and [turning] the actors’ mics on and off.”

Margaret agrees with Sam and was proud of all the hard work the cast and crew put into the production.

Everyone involved [worked] been working really hard,” she explained.

Margaret has loved the opportunity to work with Alex Marwaha, a fellow Stage Manager, and everyone else involved with putting on Crazy for You.

She admitted that the most difficult aspect of this year’s show was learning to use the sound board, a device which controls the volume of the actors’ mics along with the sound effects.

“It [was] the first time I have been involved in sound [production] for a show and learning all the different things it takes to put on a musical has been difficult but definitely very rewarding,” she told The Willistonian.

Although only a freshman, this is Noe Perry-Green’s fourth show at Williston. A day student from Northampton, she played Suzie, a Broadway showgirl. Noe says in Crazy for You Suzie does, “A lot of dancing, and accompanies her fellow showgirls and their friend Bobby to the fictional town of Deadrock, Nevada.”

Noe said Crazy for You is “a truly classic musical,” and prior to the first night, she said “There’s romance, stage fighting, tap dancing, comedy, a beautiful set and some gorgeous costumes. It’ll steal you away from reality for a couple of hours, and take you into the lives of someone else.”

While Noe described Crazy for You as “exhausting,” she has loved the experience of working with such “insanely talented and kind people.”

Caleb Stern, a senior for Northampton, Mass., has been part of many shows at Williston. He estimated Crazy for You was his 13th production as either a crew or cast member. Caleb is a veteran of the Williston theater; whether it was a dance concert, musical, or play, he has “done ’em all.”

In Crazy for You, Caleb played Bobby Child, a banker from New York City with a passion for dance who, “finds himself thrust into a world that’s very foreign to him.” Caleb describes Bobby as your “prototypical Broadway hero.”

Caleb says he’s never been a part of a show that “demanded this level of concentration,” and believes Crazy for You is completely different from any show Williston has put on in the past.

“People should come see the show because it’s unlike anything that’s been at Williston before,” Caleb said. He continued, “It’s extravagant, ridiculous, and a spectacle in all the right ways. It’s a big, riotous celebration.”

For Caleb the best part of Crazy for You was the dancing. He loves to “try to suss out tap dancing with the help of the incredibly skilled dancers at the school.”

“Unfortunately, dancing is also incredibly taxing,” Caleb explained. “With my schedule it does get challenging. Two hours of track followed by two hours of dance followed by a regular night’s schoolwork is brutal.”

Some nights when Caleb got home after rehearsal he could barely feel his feet.

“I think it’s a very physically demanding show for everyone, so sometimes it can be difficult to keep our energy up and push through rehearsal. But everyone’s managing fantastically,” he told The Willistonian just before opening night.

Emily Ditkovski, Director of the Williston Theater, encouraged everyone to come see the show.

“There are so many reasons to come see this show,” she said. “First, we have folks from all over our community who have put hundreds of hours into making this production come to life. From seventh graders working in the costume shop for the first time (and doing amazing work!) to seasoned tech theater students, to life-long tap dancers, the talents of our students are on full display,” she said.

“Second, this is an amazing musical. It is wildly entertaining. You will laugh out loud, want to hum along to the music, and be blown away by the incredible dancing. If you like coming to the theater to be entertained and to forget about all of your stress, you must see Crazy for You.”

Ditkovski has never directed “such a fun show” before and has enjoyed watching “the comedic genius of the actors emerge.” She praises her “incredible” colleagues and “amazing” students for the countless hours they’ve put into Crazy for You.

“Our students are so lucky to work with this incredible team! But the real joy has been watching Debra Vega teach much of the original choreography to the performers,” Ditkovski explained.

Vega preformed in Crazy for You on Broadway and is in the process of teaching Williston actors the original choreography she learned from Susan Stroman, “a Broadway powerhouse who paved the way for female directors and choreographers on Broadway.”

Ditkovski says having “students learn about this pioneer in musical theater has been phenomenal!”