The Real Deal

We recently attended Young Frankenstein for the second time, as it is closing soon and we wanted to see it again. You have to be a true Mel Brooks fan to find it funny, but I am, and I do, and I was delighted to hear and see it once more. Sutton Foster didn’t sound very good when we heard her as Elizabeth, shortly after it opened, but her current replacement, Michele Ragusa, was far better in this role of Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancee. Here was not only a good comedienne, actress and dancer but someone who was a wonderful vocalist as well. She epitomized the use of the voice in the best possible way that it can be used in traditional music theater style.

Her mid-range was clear and solid and went easily to a secure high open belt or to a balanced head mix and her high voice was a solid undistorted head register legit sound. All of this was smooth and easy. All her words were clear, she had no distortion of any kind. The tone was warm and bright but always in service of what she was singing. Sutton had problems when I heard her. The part sounded too high for her and she sounded thin and scrawny, as if she had tried to lighten her voice unsuccessfully. Since she was so wonderful in her three previous roles on Broadway, I was disappointed.

Ms. Ragusa, on the other hand, not only looked more comfortable, but sang the bejabbers out of her silly songs. “Please Don’t Touch Me” is one of those pieces that will die after the show closes, but while it lasts on the boards it’s just plain Mel Brooks goofy and fun. She was hilarious in “Deep Love” which is probably only going to be around as part of this show, since it is a joke on the plot, but she really makes the most of every word and note.

In short, every now and then someone turns up on Broadway who does exactly what I am talking about when I teach and I have nothing to do with her, with her training or with anything she is doing. She doesn’t know me and I don’t know her. She does represent quintissential Broadway singing, then and now, in the best of all possible vocal ways. I wish you could all go hear her before January 4 when YF goes the way of all shows………..into history. It would be worth the price just to see and hear what the real deal is.

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