Xanadu’s performance of flowing spandex and roller skates, made me want to bash my face into the T.V. just to make the horrid images and sounds stop. I haven’t seen the show, so it really could be good or something, but that performance left me so turned off that I could not even look at my wife for fear that she would see the will to live extinguished from my eyes. It was so bad that I really couldn’t say it turned me off, as much as turned me on to self mutilation (people have gotten by without any eyes or ears). With that said, "Xanadu" tickets are still on sales in La Jolla, CA and Chicago, IL. I can’t imagine why it isn’t still in NYC.
Anyways, after that abomination, "Young Frankenstein" was a revelation, while I really couldn’t understand with there were villagers prancing about with the monster right there in front of them (Experience has taught me is that you kill the monster immediately and then prance, doing it before may lead to unwanted consequences…like death and stuff). They sang "Putting on The Ritz" which was a song I knew, and having Frankenstein sing the title line all Frankensteiny was hilarious. While I myself am not a huge connoisseur of Broadway shows, I definitely marked it as one to see.
My only other knowledge of the show was through the movie. Not to say that I can remember the entire the movie, it has been a while since I had seen it. But, I did remember that Gene Wilder was the star, and I have been obsessed "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" like many other people from my generation (I still can figure out if I am in generation X or Y, at one point I identified myself with generation X because when I was younger those were the cooler older teenagers and 20 somethings, but now they are old. I definitely don’t want to be considered one of the old people right now).
I also knew that Terri Garr (The mom from"Mom and Dad Save the World", Who according to Wikipedia has been in 1.8 million movies, which is great considering she isn’t a porn star…the numbers might be exaggerated a little) was pretty hot as the blonde in the movie. Other than flashes of black and white film and a couple of lines from the movie, I really couldn’t remember anything else.
So it was with a relatively blank slate that I made the train trip to NYC with the wife and saw the show. Let me say that I found it actually to be one of the most enjoyable mainstream Broadway shows that I ever saw. I won’t spoil the plot, but it follows the movie faithfully, just with sing and dancing slotted in.
It honestly has everything I was looking for: there was simulated sex (a Broadway tool not used nearly enough along with nudity and not the Harry Potter in "Equus" nudity, Don’t worry parents the show is definitely family safe), funny lines, decent songs, good special effects and the one thing that I hold dearest when going to a show: It kept my attention through the entire time. That is 2+ hours people! and while I do not have ADD, I am a guy at a Broadway show and it usually takes an effort for to keep me engaged.
Now to break down the particulars:
Plot: Very funny script, most of the gags come direct from the movie. I think it was very well adapted to the stage. I think this is important because some shows get to carried away with staying with the movie, I think this happened in "Spamalot", which while being excellent just seemed too much like the movie, and did not really bring anything extra to the new medium.
Staging: The stage was very detailed, and looked expensive. The effects were well done, especially the horse and cart portion, as well as the showing the movement of the Doctor and other characters through out the Castle. We were sitting really close to the stage, and we didn’t feel like anything was lost.
Actors/Acting: The show we saw had almost all the original cast. Dr. Frankenstein was played by Roger Bart, who has been in a number of films and shows especially those by Mel Brooks. I most remember him as the Catty Assistant to the Director in "The Producers" movie. He was excellent in his roll as Frankenstein and definitely separated himself from Gene Wilder in the role. He even used his trademark scream or vocalization that always makes me laugh. It was perfect for the show.
The other big name there was Megan Mullally, who everybody knows from "Will and Grace". She played Frankenstein’s fiancé, I think that she did a pretty good job with the comedy but ultimately her voice isn’t for Broadway, it wasn’t strong enough. The current show does not have her there.
The rest of the cast was very good, with Igor being very well done. The night we went had the understudy monster in the lead and he did a good job, though I was really interested in seeing the main actor play the role. I also think that the aunt from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was there too, so it was a pretty star studded cast. I think right now only Roger Bart is still in the show. Ultimately, I think that this is better, as it makes it easier to believe the actors in their current character rather than concentrating on the fame of the celebrity and the roles that made them famous.
Bottom line: I would definitely recommend the show, especially for guys whether they have watched the movie or not. It is a good show to get the nagging wife/girlfriend/significant other from pulling the "you never take me to any Broadway Shows and New York is so close by" routine. Rather than having to endure something similar to "Zanadu" you can take them to this show and actually have a good time.
Editor’s note: "Young Frankenstein" is sadly closing so get tickets soon.
The comments on "Zanadu" are expressly the opinion of the writer and not explicitly or implicitly that of Dancing Hotdogs mainly because Hot Dogs would never be allow to enter the theater (Racism is alive even today!!!!)