When I went: 12 January 2017
Location: Garrick Theatre, London
Performers: Hadley Fraser (Frederick Frankenstein), Lesley Joseph (Frau Blucher), Ross Noble (Igor), Dianne Pilkington (Elizabeth), Summer Strallen (Inga), Patrick Clancy (Inspector Kemp / Hermit), Nic Greenshields (The Monster)
Creative team: Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan (book), Mel Brooks (music and lyrics), Susan Stroman (director and choreography), Beowulf Boritt (set design), Andrew Hilton (musical director), Kevin Salter, Michael Harrison, Fiery Angel (producers)
Approximate price: £80
Special points: Old-school jokes, physical comedy
Best bit: He Vas My Boyfriend / Puttin’ On the Ritz
If I could change one thing: Stronger songs / book
Young Frankenstein draws on both the well-known legend of Frankenstein and his monster and the film Young Frankenstein, and doesn’t really attempt to update the style of humour or physical comedy in this incarnation of the story. For some people, that will be why they like it, but personally I struggled the more slapstick moments particularly funny.
The short running time keeps everything moving at a sharp pace, and there are some high points in the music itself, if not anything particularly remarkable.
Even though the material that makes up this musical isn’t, in my opinion, brilliant, the cast at the performance I saw are. I had seen a lot of them before – Dianne Pilkington was Glinda in the first performance I saw of Wicked, Summer Strallen was Meg in the underrated Love Never Dies, and Lesley Joseph is famous from Birds of a Feather and, more recently, Strictly Come Dancing.
There wasn’t a weak link among the cast, who really did their level best to sell the material. Lesley Joseph’s performance of He Vas My Boyfriend was a highlight and she was funny throughout, Hadley Fraser and Summer Strallen sang beautifully and effortlessly as Frankenstein and Inga, and Ross Noble and Nic Greenshields gave great comic turns as Igor and The Monster.
Even though I don’t personally love scenes that rely heavily on physical comedy, Patrick Clancy’s Hermit was definitely a hit with the audience in general and he did sing really well. Puttin’ on the Ritz was an obvious highlight of the show as well, but the fact that it wasn’t originally written for this work underscored the fact that the rest of the songs in this musical aren’t particularly memorable.
I think that people who enjoy slapstick comedy and Carry On-style humour would really like this musical, but it wasn’t really for me.