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.

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