Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein
A small town sits at the base of a craggy mountain. on which a narrow, craggy road winds its way up to the forbidding castle at the top, eerily illuminated by a full moon. The house lights go down, and the title card appears over the scene: Young Frankenstein!
Last night, Prairie and I were privileged enough to be in the audience for the premiere performance of Mel Brooks‘ new musical adaptation of his classic comedy Young Frankenstein at the Paramount Theatre here in Seattle. The show itself was excellent — a wonderfully deft translation of the film to the stage, with all the old gags you remember from the film (“Wasn’t your hump on the other side?” “What hump?”), new gags for the stage, and a full selection of hilarious song and dance numbers.
Roger Bart, who Prairie and I knew mainly as George on Desperate Housewives and as Carmen Ghia in The Producers, very ably takes on the Gene Wilder role of Frederick Frankenstein (“Frahnk-en-steen!”), finding the manic edge that keeps Frederick balanced between lunacy and good-hearted confusion as he confronts his family’s famous history. Christopher Fitzgerald at times seems to channel Marty Feldman as Igor (“Eye-gor.”), Megan Mullally (of TV’s Will and Grace) minces marvelously as Elizabeth, and Sutton Foster‘s Inga, Andrea Martin‘s Frau Blücher, and (of course) Shuler Hensley‘s monster are all wonderful.
I’m really looking forward to a cast album being released down the line. We’re not completely settled on a favorite number yet — Prairie is leaning towards either “Please Don’t Touch Me” or “Transylvania Mania”, while I go between “Please Don’t Touch Me” and “He Vas my Boyfriend” for original music, though the all-out spectacle of “Puttin’ On the Ritz” is a close contender — but as “Please Don’t Touch Me” is on both of our immediate lists, it appears to be the lead contender at the moment.
Another big reason for wanting a cast album, though, is simply that as much as we enjoyed all the musical numbers in the production, we both ended up humming “Puttin’ On the Ritz” to ourselves as we went home, because it was the one song that we’d heard before, so it was the one that was easiest for our brains to latch onto. I suppose it’s a slight risk with this particular production, of course. They couldn’t exactly drop the “Puttin’ On the Ritz” scene, but it’s almost a shame that its familiarity sends us out humming that instead of any of the other wonderful songs we heard.
However, if that’s the closest I can come to a downside to the night, I’d say we’re doing pretty well. There were a few slight technical glitches here and there, though nothing terribly big (a few microphone pops in the first musical number, a bit of scenery that didn’t quite slide all the way into place during a scene change, a dropped hat), and these are the kinds of little kinks that are likely to get worked out over the next few weeks before the show makes its move to New York to open on Broadway.
Overall: an excellent show, and we got to see it first (nyeah-nyeah)!
Other Views (added as I find them):
Bub’s Studio gives a more detailed and critical review. I can see his points, and do agree with some of them (Act I runs long and could use some trimming, and Elizabeth’s phone call bit in the lab, while amusing, feels a bit oddly out of place, as if it exists only to remind us that she exists). I don’t agree with all of his criticisms, however, and he seems to have come out of it far less impressed overall than I was.
mickeysacks, who’s apparently part of the production team, saw the final dress rehearsal and calls it “fantastic fun.” Oooh — and she’s posted a few backstage pictures as she worked on the production, including one of her and Mel Brooks. I’m jealous!