‘Young Frankenstein’ is a Monster hit

Anne Horak as Inga and Roger Bart as Dr. Frankenstein.


After Mel Brooks set the all-time Tony Award record for his Broadway stage version of his classic comedy film “The Producers,” critics were skeptical that he could match or exceed that Grand Slam with a musical version of his Oscar-nominated, hysterically funny 1974 film “Young Frankenstein.” Those critics were way wrong. 

Brooks’s “Young Frankenstein, for which he co-wrote the book with Thomas Meehan, and wrote the music and lyrics, equals or exceeds “The Producers” in non-stop laughs, superb direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, and a terrifically talented cast led by Tony Award-winning Roger Bart as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein and Rye Mullis as a smashingly good Monster. The show, now playing at the Fox Theatre, runs through Sunday, May 23.


Bart does a superb job of evoking Gene Wilder’s movie version of the good (or bad?) doctor, while adding his own energy, as is the case with Rye Mullis as the Monster. Bart, Mullis and the entire cast not only deliver strong acting, but truly terrific singing and dancing. Except for a few microphone glitches, which muffled some of the dialogue, every word of the story and singing could be heard.

Joining Bart and Mullis on opening night were two substitute performers, James Gray replacing Cory English as Igor, the hump-backed assistant to Dr. Frankenstein, and Melina Kalomis in the key role of Elizabeth, the “mustn’t touch me” fiancee of the Doctor. Both were outstanding, demonstrating the depth of a cast in which substitutions can be made quickly without adversely affecting the show.

Joanna Glushak strikes just the right balance between humor and menace as Frau Blucher, the loyal assistant to the original Victor Frankenstein. Anne Horak, as the gorgeous, high-spirited Inga, who aggressively and seductively volunteers to be the assistant to the Young Frankenstein, is thoroughly hilarious. Brad Oscar is spot-on perfect in the dual roles of Inspector Kemp and The Blind Hermit, who welcomes the Monster into his lonely abode.

The blending of the genres of 1930s vintage horror movies and the best of Broadway is the secret to the success of “Young Frankenstein.” The characters resemble not only the original 1931 film version, but also the 1974 Brooks film, of which, judging from opening night, most of the audience was familiar.

When Bart was trapped in the revolving bookcase in the Frankenstein home, many in the crowd joined him in demanding that Inga “Put the candle back!” When Igor is introduced, the audience knows that he pronounces his name “Eye-gore.” The audience behaves much like the loyal fans of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” One almost expected someone to shout, “Come up to the LAB and see what’s on the SLAB!”

And of course in the hugely comical version of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” the audience was primed for the Monster, dressed in a tux, to mangle the song’s title without losing a beat. Irving Berlin who was still living at the time of the original film, was very selective in giving permission for his songs to be used. He refused the desperate pleadings of Steven Spielberg to use his song “Always” in a film of the same name.

The “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number not only does Berlin proud, but it illustrates the show biz savvy of Brooks, the outstanding genius of director/choreographer Stroman and the strength and depth of the entire cast.

Also deserving credit is the orchestra under the baton of Robert Billig, the production stage management of Joseph Sheridan, and those responsible for the fantastic, accurate sets, costumes, special effects and lighting. (Be warned: there is extensive use of strobe lights in the production). A Monster puppet in a dream sequence, designed by Michael Curry Design was a show stopper.

“Young Frankenstein” delivers on all fronts as hugely funny comedy, superbly acted, sung and danced performances and an evening that will have you laughing from the time you see the video scenes in the lobby until the rousing finale. It’s a Monster hit of a show and can easily be enjoyed by the entire family.


‘Young Frankenstein’

WHEN: Through May 23

WHERE: Fox Theatre

HOW MUCH: $30-$72

MORE INFO: 314-534-1111

or www.fabulousfox.com