Monday, October 20, 2003

I'm Baaaack!

I have returned from a sojourn in Los Angeles with a few delightful tidbits to share. First and most importantly... You can still get the best corned beef in California on Farifax Avenue. (Hey, a guys gotta have his priorities.)

Thursday evening our cast of assorted misfits, ragamuffins, fools, futurists, and better halves dined at Miceli's Restaurant, which features some of the best pizza on the West Coast (our New York cast member, Harry, certified it as such), along with singing waitpersons in a family atmosphere. Miceli's was a favorite destination for my family when I was but a tiny futurist, and it is still family owned and has maintained a high standard.

Friday brought us to the real excuse for our trip. Our group went to the Pantages Theater in Hollywood to see Mel Brooks' The Producers with Jason Alexander and Martin Short. George of Fool in the Forest, will certainly be chiming in with his own review shortly, but I will add my two cents now.

A delight, would be the first thing that comes to mind. It is an evening of broad comedy in the Mel Brooks tradition. Perhaps the time of Mel's sort of comedy has passed but at the height of his prowess he gave us a couple of the best comedies in the history of cinema. Of course I'm referring to Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, but before those high points he created The Producers, which may not have made the splash of the other two films, but is every bit as funny.

The movie is now a musical play. The story has only been tweaked slightly to accommodate live performance and to make it a bit less dated. Gone, sadly are the concierge at Liebkind's building (would have required an extra set for one joke) and gone is Dick Shawn's character Lorenzo Saint DuBois ("but my friends call me LSD"). Would have been too dated, but Shawn stole the movie to a large extent and we lose his song "Love Power".

Jason Alexander and Martin Short did a great job in the roles and obviously made a study of the rhythms and intonations in the original film. I rewatched the movie last night and when Zero Mostel laments his "cardboard belt", or Gene Wilder gets "hysterical, wet and in pain", it is obvious that the cast of the stage version used the film as a template.

It is broad humor with no sense of irony, but it works on its own terms. And if you manage to see it, watch for Ulla. A fairly minor character in the original movie, but a show stealer in the stage version.

Finally on Saturday, my band of miscreants did some museum excursions. A trip to the Getty was a pleasure. We were between major exhibitions besides a small showing of renaissance drawings titled Michelangelo to Vasari that was well worth seeing. Unfortunately we were a bit early to see the exhibit of Julia Margaret Cameron, which opens October 21st. We also spent a fair bit of time roaming amidst the wonderful collection of European Paintings at the museum. If you find yourself in LA, the Getty is a must. A wonderful collection in a fabulous facility perched atop a hill above the Sepulveda Pass, a fabulous gift to art lovers.

From the Getty we headed a bit further down Sepulveda to The Skriball Museum, which is currently featuring an excellent exhibit entitled "The Photograph and the American Dream, 1840-1940". Also recommended if you find yourself in Southern California between now and January 4th.

A wonderful time had by all. Thanks to our host, George (Le Fool) and his wife Gail for arranging this field trip.


Update: As expected, George has posted his more detailed and literate review of The Producers. Read it here.

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