Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman
Starring Roger Bart, Shuler Hensley, Cory English,
Brad Oscar, Beth Curry, Joanna Glushak
and Anne Horak
Princess of Wales Theatre
Playing through April 18th

Reviewed by Robin Breon

Well, I can't for the life of me understand why Mel Brooks' second foray into musical theatre, Young Frankenstein, received reviews any less laudatory than his previous blockbuster smash hit The Producers, but apparently they were, as the reviewers say, "mixed."
I think it all comes down to whether or not you enjoy Mel Brooks' sense of humor. I happen to enjoy it (a lot) but then I'm a big Mordecai Richler fan as well and of any other writer, satirist or comedian who just loves to go for the profane, the sexually robust, the politically incorrect gutsy laugh kind of humor that you know you're not supposed to laugh at publicly until you look around the theatre and see the public laughing their butts off. The word is out that Mr. Brooks is now working on his third venture into musical theatre, adapting his film Blazing Saddles—surely the great American allegory of the times in which we live—to which I can only say goody, can't wait.
Young Frankenstein is filled with old vaudeville jokes that have been shoplifted more times than a Hershey bar off a candy counter ("Hello Nurse!", "Walk This Way", etc) which only adds to its great likeability. The music and lyrics penned for the show come straight from Mr. Brooks' febrile imagination and, as a song list, fall nicely within the book itself which was also crafted by Brooks collaborating with Thomas Meehan.  Some reviews said that the whole enchilada has a kind of chopped up, mish mash, slap-dash quality to it that hangs together as low-brow fare (albeit one with plenty of spice) which is exactly why I love enchiladas by the way, especially with lots of chocolate molé sauce which this musical unfortunately lacks but that's another story.
The only thing absent in this production is Andrea Martin reprising her role as Frau Blücher which would have been a real hoot for Toronto audiences but you can't have everything. Susan Stroman's superb direction and choreography gives just the right electrical charge to animate this old gothic-framed carcass and give it new life. The cast is amiably led by the droll but razor sharp comic timing of Roger Bart with monstrously strong support from Shuler Hensley, Cory English, Brad Oscar, Beth Curry, Joanna Glushak and Anne Horak.

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