Monday, September 5, 2011

"Would You Believe?" This Is A Very Funny Show

Get Smart
Created by Mel Brooks
and Buck Henry
Directed by Brian Newell
Maverick Theater
110 Walnut Ave,
Fullerton, CA
Fri., Sat. 8 PM
Sun. 4 PM
Through Sept 17
Five Scoops

Reviewed by Allen Bacon
The Daily Bosco

I have a confession to make.

The real reason why I started watching Get Smart (the parody of television and movie double agent shows like James Bond and Man From UNCLE) as an eight year old boy in the late sixties was that I had a huge crush on Agent 99 (played by Barbara Feldon). To be fair to blonde women, I also had a crush on Barbara Eden prancing around and granting wishes in that skimpy Genie outfit in the show that preceded Get Smart on Saturday nights (I Dream of Jeannie)...but I digress.

The reason why I continued to watch Get Smart through it's entire television run and it became one of my favorite shows of all time is that it was extremely funny. But it was a totally different humor that I had ever witnessed on network television. I also, as many fans of the show, was trying to figure out what the acronyms KAOS and KONTROL meant. Of course, later on we found out the writers were playing a cruel trick on us.....Those acronyms don't stand for anything.

What I didn't realize when I was a young boy is that I was watching one of the earlier efforts of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. Mel Brooks of course would go on to write and direct such comedy classic movies as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, and the Producers. Buck Henry would go on to write, host,act and be a major force in the early years of Saturday Night Live.

So, I was excited when I first heard the Maverick Theater in Fullerton was doing a stage version of Get Smart. Ironically one of the show times was on a Saturday night...the same night the TV show came approximately the same time a small wide-eyed eight year old would watch the show in the late sixties. I was even more excited when Director Brian Newell invited me to watch and review the show.

I was not disappointed. Everything about this show was cool and funny. As an added bonus, for us fans of the original television show, it really pays a great homage to the original television show.

The one thing I liked off the bat was that Shaun Michael McNamara, the actor who plays Maxwell Smart, does not try to channel the spirit of Don Addams (the actor who played Maxwell Smart brilliantly in the original TV Show). McNamara brings his own refreshing, comedic take to the character with great success.

The same can be said about Jax DiBennedetto...the young lady that plays Agent 99. No copying of Barbara Feldon here and she doesn't even try to look like the original Anent 99. DiBennedetto (like Barbara Feldon) is still plenty cute though and plays the comic foil to McNamara very well.

This is classic Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. There is no denying their influence on this show. A lot of third wall breaking. For instance, when the infamous Cone of Silence breaks down, two guys from the stage crew emerge to take it away...through the crowd, apologizing as they step over the audience. Or, with the famous Get Smart theme song playing, Maxwell Smart walks through a door as he does on one of the most recognized and famous openings of a TV show...the bathroom door stage right...the music stops, the audience hears the toilet flush, Maxwell Smart comes out wiping his hand on a towel as he walks back through the audience and hands it to one of the audience members. Funny stuff.

And, as is the case in all Mel Brooks and Buck Henry creations, there are some hilarious over the top characters. And this show is no exception. In this show its the Transgender Villian Lady V played wonderfully by RC Sands . Or the extremely sexy henchgirls Kitty Galore, Honey Potts and Number 3.

But my favorite is the befuddled chief. Played here wonderfully by Maverick veteran Rick Sands.

Great Direction, lighting design, and use of space at the Maverick by Director Brian Newell. I also enjoyed the live band under the direction of Sho Fujeida...that is a cross between a 60's surf band and the Henry Mancini or Nelson Riddle Orchestra (groups that were so prevalent in the 1960's when the TV show was in production).

There are only a few shows left of Get Smart at the Maverick (it runs until Sept. 17).

"Would you believe?" is very funny and entertaining and if you are a fan of the series...not to be missed.

1 comment:

Doug Vehle said...

You left out 'The Pink Panther.' I always figured Inspector Clouseau himself was the source for Maxwell Smart, with 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' (You didn't pronounce the word "Uncle," did you?) just adding some favoring.

But no Larabee? (Played by Don Adams cousin.) No Hymie the Robot? Unlucky Agent 13? hmmm.

So what did Agent 99's Mother call her? What was 99's Mother called? What FIRST did Agent 99 achieve?