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8/17/11

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN: THE MUSICAL - REVIEW


Had I known as a kid that one day a Young Frankenstein musical would ever exist I think I would have gone through the roof with pure geeky giddiness. Well, I wasn't a kid but when I heard Gene Wilder say in an interview that Mel Brooks was working on that show but I can honestly say that I creamed a tiny bit.

Now it's 2011 and...you know what? I completely missed the damn thing! Living in London sucks. I did get to check out a filmed performance though so at least I got to see it eventually.

Thoughts? This is one big, expensive musical indeed. Hell, the Overture itself is like 4 minutes long! But I guess seeing as this is based on what is essentially Mel Brooks' best film and follows a huge hit like The Producers it's bound to be big and expensive. From what I understand critics were mixed upon its release but from my side of things, I loved every minute of it.

Roger Bart, originally cast as Igor, turns out to be the perfect choice for Dr Frankenstein (read: Fronk-Un-Steen) and listening to the Original Cast Recording the ressemblance to Gene Wilder's voice is often uncanny. Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) does a great job as the doctor's madcap wife and displays an impressive, show-stopping singing voice throughout. The rest of the cast is spot-on and no-one puts a foot wrong. I would have liked to see the Inspector get a somewhat more significant role but adding the darts and courtroom scenes would have elevated the already epic music to 4 hour Opera territory.

The songs are a lot of fun with highlights including our favorite blind hermit's comically lonely Please Send Me Someone, "extended" (geddit?) penis joke Deep Love, Inga's Roll In The Hay and the epically great Transylvania Mania, not to mention the classic Puttin' On The Ritz bit which develops into a full-on but very welcome tap-dancing number. The whole thing is full of big, catchy tunes and although some will compare it to The Producers to death this is a very different...monster, shall we say? Yes the humour is very Mel Brooks (read: childish/silly) but if you like the original film and this generally old-fashioned, happy-go-lucky style of comedy musical then this is an unmissable treat.

There is a lot of speculation whether a Blazing Saddles musical will be Brooks' next venture and, to be honest, I'd welcome that with open arms. As would I a Dracula: Dead and Loving It musical. Keep 'em coming Mel. Just...bring them to London please?

An underrated, underplayed gem destined for cult adoration.

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