Young Frankenstein review

Theatre, Musicals
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(16user reviews)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
1/6
© Manuel Harlan
 (© Manuel Harlan)
2/6
© Manuel Harlan(Dr. Frederick Frankenstein) & Ross Noble (Igor)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
3/6
© Manuel HarlanHadley Fraser (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein) & Shuler Hensley (The Monster) 
 (© Manuel Harlan)
4/6
© Manuel HarlanLesley Joseph (Frau Blucher), Ross Noble (Igor), Hadley Fraser (Dr. Frankenstein) & Summer Strallen (Inga)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
5/6
© Manuel HarlanRoss Noble (Igor)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
6/6
© Manuel Harlan

A phenomenal cast animate Mel Brooks’s fun-but-dated musical

As Halloween approaches, 91-year-old comedy legend Mel Brooks has unearthed his dusty, schlocky comedy musical. It’s a ‘Frankenstein’ riff that started out as a 1974 movie, then got turned into a Broadway musical a decade ago. Why bring it back? The cast’s approach seems to be ‘Why not?’, and they fling themselves into this creaky confection with vigour.

Usually seen in more serious fare, Hadley Fraser is a faintly leftfield choice to play lead Frederick Frankenstein, hapless grandson to Mary Shelley’s Victor. His Gene Wilder-style wig isn’t enough to instil him with mad scientist vim but he still keeps this bonkers plot moving. His green-faced co-star Shuler Hensley has been with the show since its 2007 Broadway premiere, and it shows. He makes a great monster, progressing from creaky charm to a bravura dance sequence set to ‘Puttin’ On the Ritz’. And Dianne Pilkington is wonderfully voiced and hilariously diva-ish as an heiress whose chaste, doomed romance with Dr Frankenstein inspires the show’s two most memorable numbers: ‘Touch Me Not’ and ‘Deep Love’.

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But then a cast this good could probably light up any show: here, they’re like dynamite in a party popper. Broadway director Susan Stroman’s production is ruthlessly efficient but does little to modernise this hopelessly dated, thinly plotted show. The cast embarks on low-stakes adventures set in a Transylvania that feels like it’s been extrapolated from a single Eurovision Song Contest entry: generic Euro accents, plenty of kitschy folk costumes, even some bogus yodelling by young lab assistant Inga (a game but horribly misused Summer Strallen).

It’s all totally unscary, but then ‘Young Frankenstein’ isn’t really a satire of horror movies. Its real cultural reference points are Golden Age movie musicals, and the further you are from remembering the ’40s the slimmer the chances you’ll get the jokes. What might have once passed as light smut feels a bit gauche, a bit sordid, too. The women are either old crones or simpering bimbettes: whichever they are, they’re continually flashing their stocking tops and throwing themselves at any man that hoves into view. Even if he’s seven foot tall and green.

It’s still madcap, energetic fun – the kind of thing kids might love, if the weird retro sex stuff didn’t traumatise them for life. Still, I’m not sure what lightning bolt of inspiration persuaded Mel Brooks to reanimate this musical comedy – it might have been better left for dead.

By: Alice Saville

Posted:

Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:6
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
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tastemaker

Classic Mel Brooks through and through.

A fun night out filled with laughter and amazing dance numbers.


The cast are incredible and my favourite moments was a Igor adlib and a prop malfunction as they sold it and carried on.

tastemaker

This show is funny, there's no doubt about that, I found myself chuckling quite often. I agree that it felt at times out of date and could have done with an update from the original film. The cast are brilliant, my favourite being Cory English as Igor, who was a laugh-a-minute character and the songs were animated, if occasionally misogynistic. If you don't take this show too seriously and see it as a fun night out, you'll definitely enjoy it.

Tastemaker

Mel Brooks’s Young Frankestain production is absolutely fantastic! It is rare to find truly funny musicals in West End & this is definately one of them. Great cast, excellent choregraphies as well great set design. Garrcik Theatre, being relatively small, helps the audience to feel more engaged. Be prepared to laugh a lot, from start till the end!

tastemaker

To say I was not au fait with the work of Mel Brooks prior to seeing Young Frankenstein, would have been an understatement – having never seen his works before, or even heard of for that matter (what can I say, they were before my time!). That added with the fact I also somehow have never seen the original Frankenstein movie or any adaptations since, I was really going into this with a blind, yet open-minded optimism of what was to come…

Firstly, it became apparent that Frankenstein was not the name of the monster as I had wrongly assumed for all these years (can’t be just me?!), but his creator– who I now know was Dr Victor Frankenstein! The story follows Frederick Frankenstein who we see working as a Professor of Science in an American university, but it quickly becomes apparently he wants to disassociate from his family history – announcing his name is pronounced “Fronkensteen” and shunning his grandfather’s actions as delusional experiments.

We the watch as Freddie inherits Victor’s Transylvanian castle and with that follows in his grandfather’s footsteps, with lots of fun and frolicking along the way. The cheeky quips, silly cheap LOLs and witty gags were a laugh a minute which keeps you on your toes as an audience trying to catch every one. The songs were so darn catchy and most of which had me in stitches, paired with charming choreography – particularly “Putting of the Ritz” which make me laugh until I had tears in my eyes!

That’s said, as highly as I can praise the performance, it has to be said that the show itself did undoubtedly did have a dated feel to it - with problematic undertones throughout particularly the female characters sexualisation and portrayal of male dominance in relationships – however is based on the film which was a product of its time, so if you can look past this you are left with a show which I’d say is definitely worth a watch if you enjoy humour which is silly in all the right ways and very funny. 

Tastemaker

I walked into this show with minimal expectations as I didn't really know too much about it, but by the end was loving every moment. The sets are amazingly crafted, and the cast are phenomenal. The whole way through I was flabbergast as to how Lesley Joseph was over 70 years old, yet had more energy and chutzpah than the rest of the cast combined!


The songs are catchy and this show will have you laughing the entire way through.

tastemaker

If you’re a fan of camp, funny musicals this is for you! 2 weeks after watching, my face still aches from the belly laughs this caused!

Straight from the opening number about the brain- you know this isn’t going to be your normal musical! The singing was fantastic, along with the storyline and it is just full of innuendo.

The set pieces were spectacular and Putting on the Ritz number was incredible- the fantastic use of light during the dancing made it even more special!

My expectations weren’t very high when I went in, but I was so wrong! I plan to go see it again soon, you should too!!!

tastemaker

I think this may be the most I've laughed in the theatre...ever. I loved it, I really did. The whole cast was fantastic, great comedic timing and ability to capture the whole room. I also found the set design really impressive, the clever designs made the space feel much larger than it was.


Overall, I would recommend this show to anyone looking for a fun night out. Whilst it's called Young Frankenstein those who are not usually fans of the spooky will also be sure to have a great evening. 


Now to watch more Mel Brookes productions...

tastemaker

As many have said, Young Frankenstein is definitely a laugh-out-loud musical! I actually expected it to be more of a horror, but the humour actually provided that element at times! It's not to everyone's taste, but I assume that's in keeping with the character of the original film. The plot itself was ok, however the production's saving grace was the cast, who were amazing! Everyone played their quirky characters very well, and they really did bring the show to erm...life through some great songs, and slick delivery. I was also impressed with their clever use of the small space for some great art direction! 

tastemaker

Young Frankenstein is a laugh-out-loud musical with a little bit of a cheeky side.


The jokes are crude - and there's no denying some elements are a bit outdated (a song alluding to domestic violence?!) - but the performers were fantastic, delivering the show with great humour


The sets felt like what you might have expected from the original 70s film, adding to the quirky, retro vibe. Overall, it's a fun show, which doesn't take itself too seriously - but some of it could maybe do with a little bit of an update.

tastemaker

Fantastic Laugh out Loud!


With no expectations of the show, I was thoroughly impressed and enjoyed the show immensely! It had a fantastic cast, a very funny script, a dazzling set and is full of big musical numbers, overall it ticked all the boxes of a ‘proper west end musical’.


The cast were without a doubt 5* from, the leads Hadley Fraser and Lesley Joseph to the whole ensemble. They were on point and energetic and belted out incredible numbers like ‘Puttin on the Ritz!’ which was the crown of the performance.


As mentioned in other reviews and what is fundamentally Mel Brooks signature style, the performance is very slap-stick and silly at times, but I felt it was all in proportion and consistent throughout, yes at times it was crass but the majority was light-hearted and stylistic.


There is no escaping that the play is full of sexist songs, characters and scenes along with the blatant misogynistic nature- men are the brains, women are the boobs- and references to domestic abuse but I feel the show generates conversation and highlights this, just because its humorous it doesn’t mean it concedes or agrees with it.

Tastemaker

Let's get one thing straight – the cast is absolutely phenomenal. There are great performances, amazing numbers and jaw-dropping vocal skills here. Shout out to Hadley Fraser for a superb take on the lead character.


But for me, this isn’t enough to save the show. Hearing everyone else in the theatre laugh their socks off, I’m probably the only one feeling this way, but I found the whole thing a bit crass. Sometimes too childish, most of the time just plain inappropriate, I didn’t find any of the jokes particularly funny. Saying men only want sex and woman only love big schwanzstuckers is one (already sexist for both genders) thing, but to that add ‘He Vas My Boyfriend’ (which is basically a number about domestic abuse) and a scene where the monster carries Elizabeth off to have its way with her (which is borderline supporting rape culture) and you have a show that is just plain insensitive.


You could argue I’m taking this too seriously, that it’s a play that is just a bit outdated as based on a old movie, that it’s just a bit of banter. But I think this stuff matters. And unless the play evolves from the original movie and does much better by its female characters and treats its male leads with a bit of respect, I won’t recommend it to anyone.

tastemaker

I haven't seen the original film, and in fact was unaware it was based on a film until the interval! It was pretty funny, but quite a lot of slapstick-ish humour, and some pretty lewd parts, plus a whole song about how domestic violence is ok - it seemed out-dated, but maybe that was the point (the film was made in 1974). 

The whole cast were really good singers which was good and some of the songs were so catchy I was humming them on my way home. Overall pretty good if you have seen the film I suspect!

Tastemaker

Hugely entertaining, lots of references to musicals throughout the ages as well. Some lovely performances; Hadley Fraser shows he can be great in a comedy role; Lesley Joseph is as good as I have ever seen her. 

There are a number of great dance routines, Puttin' on the Ritz, is a total show stopper. The audience loved it and it is a great night out! Recommended.

tastemaker

Having never seen the show, I wasn't sure what to expect. I went with my dad who is a big fan of the film and he thoroughly enjoyed it! I wouldn't say it was necessarily my kind of humour but I did chuckle in parts! Ross Noble was brilliant as was Frankenstein. Shows sometimes don't keep my interest as well if I'm not familiar with the story at all but this was not the case with this musical, I did really enjoy it. 


I haven't seen the film so have no comparisons to make, but this show was fantastic! There are a numbers of performances that resonate as highlights including the Hay Ride where Frederick Frankenstein meets his new assistant. The cast were all fantastic in their roles, with energy and enthusiasm carried right through out the show! With lots of laughs to be had, I would suggest seeing this show! 

tastemaker

I enjoyed this show but I would definitek6 say that the second half saved the day. The first half wasnt poor but I wasn’t gripped and the only highlight in that first part is the hay ride song which is gold in my opinion.

Part 2 grabs you from the off and the whole audience was audibly chuckling along. It’s all about ‘Putting on the ritz’ ;)

Great performances from the entire cast but for me Frankenstein steals the show completely. Great facial gestures throughout.

It’s not the best thing on in the west end right now but it is lighthearted and fun and sometimes that is definitely what you need. Fun times :)

tastemaker

Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced ‘Fronk-en-steen’) inherits a castle in Transylvania, where he, following his grandfather legacy, brings a Monster corpse back to life. Of well, we all know the story, don’t we!

And even though you do know the plot, it captivates the audience from the very beginning, everyone is laughing, clapping, humming along the catchy songs throughout the show. I don’t remember that I have ever laughed and enjoyed a musical as much as this one for a very long time.

 ‘He Vas My Boyfriend’ song was absolutely hilarious and brilliant and I will be looking to find this version to play later again and again. Lesley Joseph who played wicked housekeeper Frau Blucher was one of my favourites. And then it was ‘Deep Love’, such an incredible song  which was performed beautifully. Other actors were also outstanding. Igor was so entertaining and I applaud him for playing superbly such a difficult role with a dazzling charm – crouched down and bouncing on stage with his ever changing from left to right hunchback.

Don’t miss it as this brilliant show really lifts everyone’s spirit, and we all need a bit more joy and laughter to brighten up our days. I’d definitely go again!