The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein is, at times, a juvenile T & A joke-filled, madcap romp filled with quite a bit of lowbrow, though a tinge subversive, humor; it spoke to me.
That’s not to say the show is perfect. If you have read anything about this show it seems every one jumps on the “it’s not nearly as good as The Producers bandwagon.” Well fortunately, to some perhaps unfortunately, I have never seen The Producers, something I plan to correct this summer out at Starlight Theater, however, I digress. My point being that I feel having not seen Brooks’ Tony award winning Producers I am able to approach Young Frankenstein with a clear mind devoid of any expectations, short of comparisons to the film.
So short of having the driving force of our lead character Dr. Frederick Frankenstein being a bit illusory, the show really works for me. If anything that is the one fault I have with the show is the good Doctor’s lack of clearly defined motivation. I should note here that Roger Bart as the lead/Dr. Frankenstein is fantastic. The character faults are all in the book and have nothing to do with his performance. Bart, who originated the role on Broadway, has a presence on stage that radiates energy like the simulated lighting in the show.
Bart isn’t the only one giving an outstanding performance. Cory English as Igor, and the second after Bart who performed in the original Broadway production also turns in an outstanding performance. Both actors seem really comfortable in these roles and really have quite a bit of fun playing them; so much so that you can’t help but wait for them to come back on stage for the brief moments that they leave after appearing together again for the first time.
Does the show live up to the film, in some ways yes in others no. Although I am a bit hazy as I can’t recall the last time I watched the 1978 comedy classic. Part of me feels it’s almost unfair to compare the film to the musical as they are two different things however they are of the same heritage, thus comparisons are inevitable. The film was a parody of the classic Universal Horror films peppered with fades and wipes mimicking the films it was parodying. Being a live theatre setting most of these obviously can’t be reproduced in live theatre and thus are mostly lost. There are several times where it seems they may be trying to reproduce them through lighting effects. All the memorable lines from the film are worked in here. There were even a couple of moments were it felt like there was some pretty hilarious ad-libbing going on in regard to Igor’s hump that nearly had me in tears when the final line about it was dropped.
Perfect theatre it isn’t, but damn entertaining it is. The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein (wow that’s a long title) is in town through Sunday. It’s an hilarious show worth catching this weekend.
Young Frankenstein has shows at the Music Hall through Sunday. For tickets and specific show times visit the ticketing page here, or call the box office at 1-800-982-2787
By John Coovert