26th August – 9th September
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Review by Jane Currie.
Based on Mel Brooks’s classic comedy film, Young Frankenstein is the brilliant madcap musical about the infamous Victor Frankenstein’s grandson arriving at his family’s castle in Transylvania to deal with the estate. Cue a host of kooky and belly-achingly funny characters turning up to welcome the new doctor, including hunched lab assistant Igor, Inga the buxom fräulein, shifty housekeeper Frau Blücher, and a new creature about to be brought back to life…
Despite being a fan of Mel Brooks, the movie version of Young Frankenstein somehow slipped under my radar, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the live show. Of course, Brooks is known for his incredible comedy writing and direction, but my throat was actually sore by the end of the night from laughing so enthusiastically. A preconception of mine was that comedian Ross Noble, in the role of Igor, would steal the show with his well-established comedy persona and experience, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that every single character provided some fantastic comedic moments.
This being a relatively new musical, I was wary as to what the music and staging would be like – I find the tendency of film-to-musical shows is to produce a faulty mirror image of the original, but it was refreshing to witness such outstanding music (written by Brooks himself) and phenomenal staging and choreography. Each scene stood out and added to the amazing experience of the performance.
Hadley Fraser is both hilarious and affecting as leading man Frankenstein, giving me goose bumps during his soliloquy. Summer Strallen plays love interest Inga perfectly: she has the ideal mix of impressive vocal skills, sex appeal and great wit throughout. Even Elizabeth – Frankenstein’s high-maintenance socialite fiancée, portrayed by the marvellous Dianne Pilkington – gave some unbelievably hilarious musical numbers. Arguably the part that stood out least for me was Lesley Joseph’s Frau Blücher. The part was played well but with such a strong cast and a show with such imposing characters, Joseph’s role seemed to take somewhat of a backseat. However, I must mention her hilarious rendition of ‘He Vas My Boyfriend’; it definitely demonstrates Joseph’s sense of humour about herself.
Speaking of a cast with a great sense of humour, there was an unexpected show-stop moment, due to a small technical issue. But in the show’s true carefree and slapstick style, Noble and Fraser entertained the crowd in front of the curtain while the staging was being fixed. Noble is no novice when it comes to adlibbing (any fans of his comedy can testify to that) and the decision to do a small bit of improv to keep the audience entertained was a fantastic and well-received one.
Young Frankenstein is not big, it’s not clever, but it is utterly amazing! This is the show’s first outing in the UK and it will soon arrive in London for a West End run, and I know it will be a huge hit with all. Trust me, it’s guaranteed to make you want to do the Transylvania Mania!