Finally saw the musical yesterday in Seattle. It was well worth the trip (despite the total three-hour crawl at the borders) and the price. Looking at the list of songs in the program, prior to the start of the show, I was surprised to see how closely it followed the movie. In fact, the book turned out to be almost verbatim to the movie. Which made a lot of people happy in the theatre. The guy next to me had seen the movie over 20 times, by his own admission, and was still laughing so hard throughout the show, I started getting worried for him. I got the feeling the theatre was packed, for this matinee, with a lot of die-hard fans of the movie. Every familiar punch-line was greeted with roars of laughter. Some comic material was added here and there, but overall, and despite a slightly different twist at the end, it was very faithful to the original script.
The cast was strong, led by Roger Bart (Carmen Ghia — The Producers, Xanthias, The Frogs), Andrea Martin (SCTV fame), Megan Mullally (Will & Grace). The dance numbers were classic Stroman – interesting use of props and imaginative choreography, especially the Puttin’ on the Ritz and Join the Family Business numbers. The sets were equally impressive.
Clocking in at 3 hours, there were some bits that could be trimmed, IMHO: the bubble machine scene and the Count Basie scene. The gay joke was totally out of place (so the village idiot is gay?..Hum…) Though I found the songs not as strong and memorable as those in The Producers, my favorites now include Transylvania Mania, Together again for the First Time and Join the Family Business, with honorable mention for He Vas my Boyfriend and Please Send Me Someone. I’m definitely looking forward to the release of the soundtrack.
I was a little surprised by the lack of grand finale, as characters simply left the stage, leaving the two stars for the final punchline, by a giant moon. Looked great. Very cinematic, but not what I expected for a musical of this scale and by this director. I got the feeling they ran out of energy and decided the punchline was more important than adding a final dance number. Pity.
All in all, well worth the price of admission (though perhaps not the reported $450 for a premier seat). **** (out of 5 stars)