Monday, February 18, 2008

Young Frankenstein sings!

Our friends Josh and Daniel gave Sarah tickets for her birthday. Good guys with great taste in bad food and good musicals. The theater is decorated like a Disney theme park, which gave me pause. The show is great, however. The stage design is particularly stunning, and the cast is uniformly hilarious. They do a great job of taking the best of the movie and perking it up as a musical.

There's the stage before the show. You can barely make out the castle. They use a lot of projection on back screens to add to the design, without relying on it too much. Roger Bart plays Dr. Frankenstein (Fronkensteen!) and does a great job. Gene Wilder's shoes are impossible to fill, but he manages to create his own version of the neurotic, sex-starved scientist. When he gets manic and insane he screams in a way that is funny on its own. His first song is a clever bit of wordplay about the brain, sort of like the old "I am the very model of a modern Major General" and is almost too quick to catch half the jokes.


A montage advert from the show.

Christopher Fitzgerald plays Igor, he of the transient hump, and mimics Marty Feldman's British accent. Not sure it was the wisest choice, but it works, and he's quite funny as well, relying on a lot of physical comedy, including swinging from the castle door's big knockers prior to that famous gag. His best scene is when he admits he used an "Abby Normal" brain for the monster. He's sitting in a chair with a labcoat on, playing little games while the Doc fumes.

In our show Renee Feder played Inga, and she was fantastic. Quite a leggy knockout, too. They make an entire song out of the "roll in the hay" gag, and as usual it's your risque Broadway tune. I think part of what I like most about Broadway shows is the burlesque unexpurgated quality. Calling back to the campy ending to Rufus Wainwright's concert, it reminds me of when America went to Times Square to be titillated, whether with tits, men in drag or gals in fishnets dancing to off-color songs. Maybe that's why I go see shows like this, Avenue Q, the Evil Dead Musical, and Hairspray instead of dramas.



The rest of the cast is damn good as well, from Frau Blucher, who gets a funny song of her own to sing about being the first Doctor Frankenstein's boyfriend, to Megan Mulally in the Madeline Kahn role. She does a great job with it, reinventing it as well because who can top Madeline Kahn? She does a fine job as the celibate socialite who gets to find "the sweet mystery of life" via the monster's enormous schwanzstücker.

My favorite scene of the movie is Gene Hackman's cameo as the old man. Here the hermit gets his own song, which is unfortunately too long. One of my minor quibbles with the show, it felt padded for time in that song. The slapstick scene is left as the original, which couldn't be improved upon, really. The only clip I could find on youtube of the original movie was in Spanish, which loses all of Hackman's great comedy work. It's too bad he usually plays a tough guy, because he was hilarious in the movie.



The Puttin' on the Ritz scene didn't make it to my camera, but it would have looked crappy anyway. The movie scene is on youtube, thankfully. They change the finale of the movie a little, since it's difficult to switch sets and show them using the Inspector's mechanical arm as a battering ram. They move the scene to a gallows where the Doc is about to be hanged (and they don't even make a "hung" joke!) The Monster arrives to save him, and everyone lives happily ever after of course. The only other iffy part of the show is a number called "The Transylvania Mania" that Igor sings to distract the villagers.

Puttin' on the Ritz (movie version)




After the show we went to Fat Annie's Truck Stop, which serves hearty American chow and other cardiological tragedies. For some reason they also sell raw oysters, which I avoided. Never order oysters in a truck stop, they are liable to be of the Rocky Mountain variety.
They serve po'boys and burgers and meat loaf and such, with a diner style interior slathered in chrome and vinyl. Authentic down the the NASCAR race on the televisions. Sometimes you can go too far with authenticity, but it was the Daytona 500, so maybe it would have been at any sports bar. What it lacked in atmosphere it made back with a different menu and a good burger. For appetizers we had the Frito Lay pie, which is a bag of fritos with chili, jalapeños, cheese and sour cream on top.

There 'tis in all its glory.

The menu was a bit scattershot with stuff ranging from Fried Cheese Curds from Wisconsin to Seared Yellowfin Tuna over mixed greens, which I wouldn't order in any truck stop I ever heard of. We stuck with the basics, but Josh gave the meat loaf a thumbs down. The burgers and po'boys and appies were just fine, and the beer selection was decent with a good set of drafts. However the next time we're in the neighborhood I'll probably try the Irish pub next door which serves Irish breakfast all day.

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