Harrison High School junior Lucas Pettinato says he feels comfortable playing a child.
More specifically, in “Crazy for You” he plays Bobby Child, the son of a big banking family who would much prefer being a song-and-dance man to tending to balance sheets and foreclosing on properties.
“Bobby is very much in my range for singing and he’s a very peppy and very happy character,” the 16-year-old says, in a rapid-fire, happy and peppy stream of consciousness. “I really enjoy playing characters who are happy and peppy, because I find myself being happy and peppy playing them. I could really connect with Bobby.”
Drawing songs from six different musicals by George and Ira Gershwin (including “I Can’t Be Bothered Now,” “Things Are Looking Up,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Embraceable You”), “Crazy for You” is set in New York and in Deadrock, Nev., where Bobby is sent to foreclose on the Gaiety Theater. He shows up, falls for the theater owner’s daughter, Polly Baker, and comes up with a plan to save the theater by putting on a big show.
For much of the show, Bobby pretends to be Hungarian theater director Bela Zangler, who (this being a musical), shows up in Deadrock, chasing a chorus girl. In one of the show’s most memorable scenes, Bobby and Bela conduct a drunken pas de deux mirror scene, matching each other move for move.
“At first, it was really difficult, because you really have to be in sync with each other,” Pettinato says, “but as we got into it and learned the lyrics and the lines that go with it, it all went together and Chris Morris, who plays the real Zangler, is just hilarious.”
Their first, painstaking rehearsal of the scene lasted three hours, with each move getting worked out. After they had the basics, Pettinato says they’ve been running it a couple of times a day to refine every step, beat and pause.
Harrison isn’t the only school staging “Crazy for You” this weekend. It’s also on stage at Croton-Harmon and Haldane high schools, part of the busiest weekend in the 2013 high-school-musical season in the Lower Hudson Valley.