It lives! Mel Brooks monster musical based on his cult 1974 film ‘Young Frankenstein’ which originally struggled to breathe on Broadway, has been brilliantly resuscitated after a Newcastle try-out before transferring to the West End.
Living in the shadow of it’s mega-hit predecessor ‘The Producers,’ the musical version of ‘Young Frankenstein’ originally opened on Broadway in 2007, and lasted for just over a year before apparently joining the graveyard of deceased musical theatre flops. However, some creative corpses are not meant to stay buried. Proving at the age of 91 that he is not too proud or too old to learn from his artistic mistakes, Brooks has spent the past few years repairing his 2007 monster miss, and has returned with a new streamlined and revamped production. The comedian and film director admits to having “cockneyed up” the new version with more British references for UK audiences.
Based on Brooks riotous re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s classic novel ‘Frankenstein,’ the musical follows the same plot of his 1974 film, and is a merciless parody of the 1930s horror movies. American brain specialist Dr. Frederick Frankenstein reluctantly travels to Transylvania to settle the estate of his infamous grandfather Baron Victor Von Frankenstein, which includes a castle and laboratory. Frederick finds himself irresistibly drawn to the notorious research of his late grandfather, and begins experiments into resurrecting dead tissue. This results in the creation of an out of control grotesque creature, and comic mayhem ensues.
While the numbers are not perhaps as memorable as Brooks stand-out musical ‘The Producers’, this wonderfully silly show which mischievously disregards the politically correct comedy genre, pulsates with a very special rhythm of it’s own. All the quotable classic lines from the original film are there, but like it’s monster they have been given new life as the style of this stage version is newly reanimated as a British comedy of errors mixed with a little bit of Carry-On.
Hadley Fraser is a fine balance of hysteria and charm as Frederick, while Ross Noble displays great physicality and likeability as Igor. Lesley Joseph as the Teutonic Frau Blucher almost steals the show with her ballsy version of ‘He Vas My Boyfriend,’ while Shuler Hensley (reprising his Broadway role) is perfectly cast as the monster. The ensemble are top notch, and under the polished direction and choreography of Susan Stroman are put through their paces with the show-stopping numbers ‘Transylvania Mania’ and ‘Putting On the Ritz.’
Review by Oliver Valentine
Tickets available from £26 https://www.theatreperform.entstix.com/tickets/young-frankenstein
‘Young Frankenstein’ is booking until 10th February 2018. GARRICK THEATRE, 2 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0HH. Box office: Box Office:0330 333 4811. www.nimaxtheatres.com/garrick-theatre/