Obviously not a reference to my blog, but that should change. I’ve been really busy and then ran off to Seattle for a little birthday fun but I’m back and hope to get back into the swing of things. After all…28 isn’t THAT old!
The main reason for the excursion to Seattle was to see the world premiere of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”. With the same creative team that took “The Producer’s” to Broadway I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to see this before it heads to New York.
Young Frankenstein is one of the most ambitious shows I’ve seen in many years and it will certainly be a Broadway success. I had a rollicking good time and truly enjoyed it’s many nods to Broadway musical legends such as Rodgers & Hammerstein, Bob Fosse, Cole Porter and George Gershwin, all while staying true to the film.
The show runs very long and is in serious need of some tightening. Unfortunately, the most obvious deletion would be one of my favorite scenes, “Join the Family Business”, which really doesn’t move the story forward. It is signature Susan Stroman right down to the astounding monster puppet that assembles from various pieces to dance among the generations of Frankensteins. I’d prefer they cut, or greatly shorten, the gruesomely long Act 1 finale “Transylvania Mania”. It simply feels out of place after the spectacular laboratory scene where the monster is given life, the natural ending to act one.
The cast was fine but the leads are really second rate compared to the supporting roles of Igor (Christopher Fitzgerald) and Frau Blucher (Andrea Martin), both of whom took their roles beyond mimicry of the movie’s original stars and made them their own. I see award nominees.
My biggest complaints with the casting were Megan Mulally, as Elizabeth, whose pregnant pauses to draw a laugh were tedious at best. Not to mention the reworking of that role from virgin to slut that kills the “Ah, Sweet Mystery…” joke. I’m certain her added presence in the stage version is merely a guise to ensure a Best Actress nod at the Tony’s.
My other complaint is Sutton Foster playing Inge. She was dull and had serious problems with her accent and probably should have dropped it altogether. She did shine in the “Roll in the Hay” number but that was purely direction. Overall, I really shouldn’t complain though since it’s rare to have such high caliber talent perform here in the Pacific Northwest. They are all veterans of the stage and should be commended for taking on roles that are so ingrained in the minds of a generation of moviegoers.
With all the new songs Mel Brooks wrote for this production, and there are many great ones, the most memorable tune of the night is still Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. This trumped up version is Susan Stroman at her finest. It is the most explosive, energetic and innovative dance number I’ve seen in years with references to the classics of both stage and screen. Don’t forget to pick your jaw up off the floor once you return to your senses. It’s that good!
I haven’t even touched on the technical aspects of the show but let me just add these two notes.
*William Ivey Long is the King of Costumes and will probably pick up his sixth Tony Award for this show.
* Mark Brickman, Special Effects Designer, is a God!! If you know Pink Floyd, you know Mark Brickman, and his innovative effects in this show will leave you dumbfounded. People will talk about the ‘Hayride’ scene for years.
If you get a chance to see this show before it closes in Seattle next weekend or this fall in NYC, don’t pass it up. You’d have to be Abby Normal not to enjoy it. (Yeah…I’m sure you saw that coming!)