The Whingers don’t normally give shows a second chance.
But chance played a huge part in the Whingers’ last night on Broadway.
Scratching around for something to see amid the detritus caused by Local One, and mulling over several options which weren’t really capturing the Whingers’ (admittedly limited) imaginations, they decided to let fate make the decision for them.
Young Frankenstein operates a daily lottery, which involves turning up at the Hilton Theatre between 5 and 5.45pm for an 8pm show writing your name on a piece of paper then retiring to McDonald’s across 42nd Street from the Hilton and waiting for the draw at 6pm. Winners can then purchase up to 2 tickets for that evening’s performance in the front row of the orchestra (stalls) for a mere $26.50 (that’s £13!).
Now it wasn’t that the Whingers were that keen to see YF again, although the prospect of seeing some of the excellent cast up close was enticing. No, what the Whingers really wanted to do was to sit in the front row having forked out $26 knowing that the people in the rows immediately behind them had coughed up a whopping $450. But the odds seemed stacked against them.
So seated in McDonald’s (yes another first for the Whingers – oh the shame!) with about a hundred others (there are only 12 pairs of tickets to be “won”) the tickets were drawn one by one with great fanfare. Suddenly Andrew’s name was announced which was extraordinary as he’d signed up with his usual cross)and he garnered his first ever round of applause on Broadway (well, 42nd Street to be precise). Phil started the clapping (but please don’t tell Andrew) and even considered instigating the obligatory (on Broadway) standing ovation for him.
But the best was yet to come. Not only were the Whingers in the front row, they were in the dead centre and the view was excellent.
The front row winners were all congratulating each other as they took their seats before the show began (unlike the many regular theatregoers who poured in late) and could swivel their heads for a close up view of the $450 punters behind them. The Whingers felt particularly smug of course. It had already been a highly satisfactory evening and for a moment they thought about leaving before the curtain went up and retiring to a bar to celebrate.
Having experienced the show from much further back they could now enjoy some of the more subtle (and not so subtle) comedic touches from the cast at close quarters. The show actually seemed better, even if only a few of the songs (“Puttin’ on the Ritz” aside) improved much on a second hearing.
There were several sight gags they’d completely missed on their previous visit and enjoyed seeing their TV favourite Megan Mullally (Karen in Will and Grace which even Andrew watches despite “not doing telly”) at such close quarters, even if she only appears briefly in the first act. She can certainly sing and has perfect comedy timing.
Andrea Martin (Frau Blucher), Christopher Fitzgerald (Igor) and Mullally (Elizabeth) will surely gather and deserve “Tony! Tony! Tony!”, nominations. Martin and possibly Fitzgerald will probably win in the best supporting actress/actor in a musical category. Unless of course there’s a huge backlash against Young Frankenstein for disappointing everyone after the infinitely superior The Producers. And, of course, assuming that the judges see it from decent seats.
The Whingers like Roger Bart (Frederick Frankenstein), they loved his Leo Bloom in The Producers when they first saw it here and had also been extremely impressed by his forbearance the previous night (and how much younger than his 45 years he looks off-stage). They also feel he’s been unfairly maligned by the critics just because he isn’t Gene Wilder.
Shuler Hensley’s (The Monster) performance came across much better close up as they could see his eyes beneath all his prosthetics, and enjoyed being close enough to see the green make-up coming off under his chin.
But as much as the Whingers enjoyed all these performances, they stick to their original view that it’s a spectacular without much heart.
And who on earth will be cast when the show presumably comes to London?
The Whingers like to see themselves as nascent casting directors and are kicking themselves they didn’t suggest Lee Evans as London’s Frederick Frankenstein during their discourse with Mel the previous evening. Assuming he hasn’t thought of him already the Whingers would be quite happy to offer their casting services for a large fee. Evans proved his credentials in The Producers, and could give a London production a lift in the title role. Although they enjoyed the show, and would love to see yodelling in the west end, they feel that without the star power the Whingers witnessed at The Hilton Theatre they’re not sure it stands much chance back in blighty.
And a tip, if you want to use the “rest room” at the Hilton allow plenty of time. On both occasions the queue for the gents was the longest they’d ever experienced in a theatre. Yes, everything’s bigger on Broadway.
One of Andrew’s fondest memories of the entire trip was a conversation the next day in which Phil asked, “Do you think Roger Bart wears a wig in Young Frankenstein?”