Monday, September 20, 2010

Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein is a Lovely Roll in ze Hay

One of my favorite Halloween traditions is watching the campy cult classic flick Young Frankenstein. I keep it on while the kiddies ring the doorbell for trick-or-treats. In fact, Young Frankenstein is a big part of my son’s solid foundation for everything silly. As a toddler he would belly laugh while pointing at the tv screen, “Hah HA HA!! Funny man wif da big eyes! EYEgor! HA HA HAH!”

So when we heard that the national touring company of YF was rolling into town, we marked the date in bold letters on the family calendar as a MUST DO event. We kept ourselves in stitches on the drive to OCPAC remembering all our favorite lines from the flick: “Put…the candle….BACK!” “Walk this way. No….THIS way.” “Whose brain did you get? Abby somebody. Abby Who? Abby Normal.”

Okay, I’m cracking up as I type this. That stuff is comedy gold.

As excited as I was to see the live stage version of one of my all time favorite movies, in the back of my brain, I wondered if it would be as good as I hoped and I have to say, “Yes!! It’s ALIIIVE with side splitting laughs and does justice to the original film. Adding musical numbers such as “Roll in ze Hay” featuring Anne Horak as Inga (my favorite number), with the horses bopping along to the infectious tune added to the campiness.

I’m the type of director who likes to cut and trim scripts to make them lean and mean…let’s get to the point and keep a brisk pace, especially in the second act, so I thought the play ran a bit long. One place I’d trim YF would be the lonely blind hermit’s song. His musical soliloquy could’ve had a stanza or two nipped. We get it; he’s lonely. Get to the site gags and let’s keep the show moving.

I didn’t think an all out comedy would give me pause and something to contemplate, but it did. There’s a point in the movie and play where Frederick Frankenstein screams the famous line “Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me.”, as he succumbs to his family bloodline of mad scientists. Destiny. I chose to give up the quest of a professional acting career and set down roots with my little family. I tip my hat to the amazing actors – leads, cast and chorus who’ve dedicated their lives to achieve their destiny by living on the road, traveling the nation to bring people a night of frivolity and franken-fun.

This touring company is an amazingly solid cast, and I give kudos to those professionals who make their living performing on the road. I live vicariously through them and quietly envy their lives, just a tiny bit.

There were a few moments where I had to cover up my son’s eyes for the sexiness of some of the choreography and luckily most of the phallic punch lines and schoolboy smuttiness went over his head. One lyric made quite an impression on my pre-pubescent boy: …your genitalia will fail ya. The audience laughed and my son cracked up and said, “I dunno what it means but that sure is funny!” Yes, the whole evening was a crack up. I guess I could be one of those moms who throw a hissy and rush my son out of the theater, but I know he’s going to learn about sex in the near future. He could learn it on the street or from Mel Brooks.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our PLAYcation in Arizona

It’s an overcast morning in OC and I’m reminiscing about my summer fling. It was hot and brief and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  As I mentioned at the onset of summer, this was the year of the staycation.  We did fun family things in Orange County with the goal of keeping the travel budget in tight rein, but when the time came for my 20 year old daughter to move into her very first apartment at Arizona State University, I knew I had to pack our bags to go witness such a momentous occasion - and help stock her fridge with groceries.  

August in Arizona is no day at the beach, so my trip planning needed an emergency ingredient to keep me from melting into the desert landscaping.  Enter my hero:  The Oasis Water Park at the Arizona Grand Resort.  This place was perfect. Minutes from campus, a newly redecorated family suite with living room,  comfy beds, bar area for my morning coffee and sunset cocktail…I was finally on a real live vacation!

Now don’t get me wrong - I really do love my OC, but I was ready to forget my faithful STAY for a fling with the VAY, baby. As i researched the best options, I found The Arizona Grand's PLAYcation, and jumped at the deal.

I ironed my cotton pool cover up, packed my sunscreen, floppy sun hat and all that goes with it, loaded up my son, his DS with his favorite Indian Jones Lego game and drove 6 hours through the desert to our destination, and let me tell you, after hours driving through 113 degree heat, seeing the Grand fountain as the sun was setting was a glorious welcome and sign that my driving was at an end.

Our room was a welcomed sight and after a good night’s sleep, we made a mad dash to The Oasis Water Park while we waited for Courtney to finish her college classes for the day. My favorite part of the water park is the Zuni River where you kick back in the cool waters, floating along under the shade of desert trees while listening music piped in throughout the water park. My son wasn’t thrilled with hanging with his ol’ mom on the river float:  I wanted to relax, float and talk while he wanted to use his inner tube as a race craft for weaving in & out of the crowed as he headed for some imaginary finish line. I nagged for a bit, then decided to be like the river and just go with the flow. Amazing that as soon as I did that and stopped demanding my son to stay with me, he suddenly wanted to be my floating companion. Lesson learned: go with the flow.

The majority of our Arizona Grand Itinerary consisted of : sun, sunscreen, visit from the drink lady, swim and repeat…add poolside munchies, and repeat. May I just say the poolside drink creations were a highlight?  Look how pretty my drink was:

I think it was called a Guppy Tank. Personally after one of these you won’t care what it’s called or what your boss’s name is or that he’s calling you on your cell phone.  I think that’s the perfect definition of a VAYcation.

Okay, so you know my favorite things were the Zuni River and relaxing in my floppy hat w/ Guppy Tank in hand.  My son’s favorite place in the park was the water slide tower. I was brave enough to do the twirly slide - once.  My son did the slides over and over and ..repeat - while mom sunned at the base of the slide’s pools.  And that was just day one. Check out my skilled video tape of the boy going down the big slide. I swear the sun was so bright I couldn’t see through my view finder - the Guppy Tank was not to blame.

That night we drove over to Courtney’s on campus apartment. Talk about luxury. Her apartment complex for ASU upper classmen is almost as luxurious as The AZ Grand.  My dorm never looked this good!

It can be a bit overwhelming to see your children begin new levels toward adulthood. Yes, I know she legally became an adult at age 18, but at 20, she's still my little girl I remember clutching the same teddy that now rests on her apartment bedspread.  She may stumble or falter as she experiences living on her own for the first time, but I have faith that she'll be the smart, strong, giving soul i've known all her life, who will pick a good path filled with new friends and experiences.    **dabs eyes w/ tissue**

We met her roommates then headed over to the big W for groceries and dorm room necessities (Van Morrison poster), then back to the Grand for the evening festivities. We missed the dancing girls (seriously) but we were in time for the best part:  movie night in the pool.  Get out your floaties and watch a family flick under the stars and in the water. We got to see Johnny Depp in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Being in the water made his barnacle breath dad even creepier!

For those of you who are dying to know, the Grand Resort has an award winning golf course, new Tommy Bahamas inspired bar and restaurant, excellent gelato, gorgeous spa, gym and lap pool. I could just live there. And guess what: you can. Yep, they have villas for purchase. They’ve thought of everything.

When the Angels travel to AZ for spring training, guess where I’m wanna stay? Yep, the same place Scioscia stays.  The Arizona Grand. 

A big thank you to GM, Paul Gray, for giving my son a ride in your golf cart. 

We both got a kick out of the tour and we loved our resort PLAYcation deal.  My son is a certified Lego Maniac, so he’s chopping at the bit to be heading to San Diego's Lego Land in the near future.  Thank you for helping this mom stretch her family dollars.

The Grand Playcation package partners with the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, SEA LIFE™ Arizona Aquarium and LEGOLAND® California. (Over $375 in family attraction tickets included!) Offered for stays through December 1, 2010.