Monday, November 26, 2007

Young Frankenstein & Old Friends

Roger Bart and Christopher Fitzgerald in Young Frankenstein.
Tell me Me Brooks isn't one of the luckiest bastards around. The day after his Young Frankenstein opens to mixed-to-negative reviews, the Broadway stagehands go on strike and his show becomes one of eight still standing. Here's my review of Young Frankenstein.

On the unlucky front, four days earlier Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll opened to rave reviews, and after five post-opening performances has been completely shut down by the strike. I'm very glad I got to see it on its last — but hopefully not final — night. Having been rather nonplussed by the Coast of Utopia trilogy, I thought Stoppard was back on track with the sort of wistful intellectualism he does best and was terribly moved the performances of Rufus Sewell and Sinead Cusack. (Incidentally, we spotted them along with Brian Cox at Angus McIndoe the night we went to Young Frankenstein a week and a half ago. See how this post is coming full circle?)

I numbed the pain of that first day back at work after a long holiday weekend by finally breaking the seal on the digitally remastered Merrily We Roll Along CD that my friend Brian gifted me with sometime ago, and I don't know what took me so long. The score ranks right up there with Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music as one of Sondheim's best. There isn't a clunker of a song in the bunch. My only complaint: No lyrics or plot synopsis in the liner notes, which the original cast album had. Yes, the history of the show in its various incarnations is interesting, but seeing the Sondheim's lyrics laid out before your eyes is the best way to appreciate them — and learn some new vocabulary words in the process.

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