Growing up with seven older siblings may have had its drawbacks, but there were pluses as well.
“There was always a dance partner, and my whole family sang, but that’s the only training I’ve ever had,” Ernest Ourso said.
The Ponchatoula native who lives in Baton Rouge is putting that early, informal song and dance training to good use in Baton Rouge Little Theater’s production of the musical Crazy for You. He’s been cast in the lead role of Bobby Child.
“There’s much more singing and dancing in this show than any show I’ve ever been a part of,” Ourso said before heading to rehearsal Tuesday.
“The show is dauntingly huge. There’s a lot of tap dancing, jazz and free style. It’s classic, it’s that Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, mixed with tap,” he said.
Set in the 1930s, Crazy for You, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, and book by Ken Ludwig, has Bobby dreaming of becoming a Broadway dancer or Follies dancer. He works as a banker and is sent to the one-horse town of Dead Rock, Nev., to foreclose on an old theater building. Bobby falls in love with the theater owner’s daughter, Polly, and decides to help them save the theater from the auction block. He pretends to be producer Bela Zangler, and tries to put on a big show. Polly falls in love with the imposter Bela, and when the real one comes to town, the action amps up.
“Of course, they all live happily ever after,” director Jack Lampert said, laughing.
Lampert said this is definitely a show for all ages.
“The young people love all the singing and dancing, and my generation, they love the music, because it’s all that old Gershwin music - ?Embraceable You,’ ?They Can’t Take That Away From Me,’ ?Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I mean, just song after song after song, ?I’ve Got Rhythm,’ so it’s filled with wonderful music, the director said.
The fast-paced show’s dance aspect is challenging.
“So getting the best dancers, which we have, and my choreographers have done a beautiful job, Sonja and Brad Blanchard. They’ve done a beautiful job with the teaching of the dances and the building of the numbers,” Lampert, who’s also BRLT’s education director, said.
Musical directors Chris Pyfrom and Terry Byars have a lot on their plates in this show as well, Lampert said.
“As beautiful as the music is, it’s very hard music to learn and there’s a lot of it,” he said. “I was in on one of the (orchestra) rehearsals last week, and they sound great.”
Lampert also praised his leads, Ourso and Jackie Tuttle, who plays Polly.
“Both are really dynamic and have a great stage presence. Jackie has a beautiful singing voice, in fact, she did make it to the Hollywood auditions of American Idol last year. Ernest has done many shows here at BRLT. He’s just a natural talent.”
And of course, coming from a big family that sings and dances doesn’t hurt, either.
CAST: Ernest Ourso, Bobby Child; Albert Nolan, Bela Zangler; Jackie Tuttle, Polly Baker; Ronald Coast, Lank Hawkins; Alan Daigrepont, Everett Baker; Olivia Rawlins, Irene Roth; Kevin Harger, Eugene Fodor; Celeste Veillon, Patricia Fodor; Mary Pittman, Mrs. Lottie Child; Jamie Hipp, Tess; Bess Ynek, Patsy; Dane Thibodeaux, Moose; Johnny Balance, Mingo; T.J. Thigpen, Sam; Cowboys: Adam Johnson, Jimmy; Jess Bryan, Billy; Philip Chenevert, Junior; Phillip Abington, Custus; Showgirls: Haley Schreok, Mitz; Mary Pyfrom, Vera; Katelyn Fasullo, Suzie; Megan Dewberry, Betsy; Kaitlyn Johnson, Elaine; Stephanie Toups, Margie; Alexa Dietrich, Shelia
ARTISTIC STAFF: Jack Lampert, director; Terry Byars and Chris Pyfrom, musical directors; Brad Blanchard and Sonya Blanchard, choreographers