Review Round-Ups

Were the critics brought to life by Young Frankenstein?

As Mel Brooks’ show arrives in London, find out what the critics’ verdicts were

Alun Hood, WhatsOnStage


"If you don't find Young Frankenstein a satisfyingly hilarious night in the theatre, you might want to get your vital signs checked: this is the funniest West End musical since The Producers."

"Despite boasting the majority of the same creative team, this isn't the same Young Frankenstein ("it's pronounced 'Fronkensteen'!") that performed disappointingly in New York a decade ago…This smaller scale iteration is leaner, swifter and – like the Monster at its centre – a miracle of resuscitation."

"Stroman and Brooks have assembled a killer cast led by Hadley Fraser as a glorious, dead pan Frankenstein, dashing but faintly absurd, with a ringing tenor voice; Summer Strallen sparkles as his love interest, sex-mad blonde Inga. Fraser and Strallen collectively achieve that sort of sunny, lunatic bliss that only exists in musical comedy."

Michael Billington, Guardian


"For this critic it’s every bit as good as The Producers, if not better than, its predecessor in that it piles on the gags even more relentlessly and wittily parodies musicals past and present. It offers an evening of gloriously impure fun."

"The musical is, in part, a send-up of the original 1931 James Whale Frankenstein movie. It is even more, however, a love letter to the rackety world of American vaudeville. Frederick and his dorsally-challenged sidekick, Igor, launch into a front-cloth dance-routine at first sight."

"Susan Stroman, as director and choreographer, orchestrates the extravaganza perfectly and Beowulf Boritt’s designs have just the right antiquarian oddity. The cast is also good enough to banish memories of the movie prototypes. Hadley Fraser as Frederick avoids crazed-scientist shtick to give us a credible portrait of a prof driven by the lust for experiments and experiments with lust."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


''The script (book co-written by Thomas Meehan) fillets the original for many of its best gags, while the song-and-dance routines amplify the spirit of the beast without distorting it."

"The most famous sequence in the film comes when the Creature inevitably brought to life when Frankenstein returns to his family lair in Transylvania performs Irving Berlin’s "Puttin’ on The Ritz" in top-hat and tails.The routine proves as hilarious as is required here, a lumbering, green-faced Shuler Hensley combining doe-eyed sincerity with the sort of yowls usually associated with painful dentistry.

"The cast won’t – can’t – eclipse the memories, for fans, of Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman, but the shadows of those dearly departed stars don’t loom intrusively large either. Noble in particular is a revelation, courting physical injury by continually contorting himself inside his black cape, his moon-face combining low-level cunning with lobotomised gormlessness."

Henry Hitchins, Evening Standard


"Hadley Fraser is wild-eyed and tirelessly exuberant as Frankenstein, the great inventor’s grandson. Keen to escape the burden of his famous name, he nonetheless inherits the ancestral castle — and embraces the legacy, along with its eccentric staff."

"Laughs abound, not least when the Monster dons a top hat and tails to launch into Irving Berlin’s Puttin’ on the Ritz, but this isn’t The Producers — surely Brooks’s masterpiece. The score is at times pretty disposable, and the second half of Susan Stroman’s staging is less sharp than the first."

"Yet there are darts of wit in unexpected places, as well as a bawdy delight in some truly awful double-entendres."

Alice Saville, Time Out


"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".

"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."

"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."

Young Frankenstein runs at the Garrick Theatre until 10 February.

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