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Young Frankenstein at the Garrick theatre, London – Review Round-Up

Mel Brooks’ musical comedy Young Frankenstein receives its West End premiere.

Based on the 1974 Oscar-nominated film co-written with Thomas Meehan and starring Gene Wilder, the brand new production follows a Broadway run that closed in 2009.

Susan Stroman returns to direct a revamped, restyled production, reuniting with Mel Brooks and the creative team behind their last hit, The Producers.

Also starring Hadley Fraser (Les Miserables, City of Angels) as Dr Frankenstein, comedian Ross Noble as Igor, who is best known for his appearances on Have I Got News for You and QI, as well as Lesley Joseph as Frau Blucher, Diane Pilkington, Summer Strallen and Patrick Clancy.

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Read our round-up of reviews below

Young Frankenstein runs until the Feb 10 at the Garrick theatre, London.

REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Guardian

“The horror-movie spoof is gleefully reanimated for the stage with even more jokes, superb set-pieces and barnstorming parody songs that stick a pitchfork into good taste.”

“Like The Producers, the show puts a bonfire under the accepted canons of good taste. But, as both composer and lyricist, Brooks offers a sophisticated pastiche of stock musical forms.”

“This may not be a show for sensitive souls whose idea of a jolly evening is sitting at home reading Walter Pater. For the rest of us, who cherish popular theatre’s roots in laughter and song, it offers two-and-a-half hours of time-suspending pleasure and shows that the 91-year-old Brooks, present on the first night, remains a bawdily parodic Peter Pan.”

Michael Billington, The Guardian

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STAR RATING The Independent

“Mel Brooks’ new musical version of his 1974 comedy horror movie has no agenda other than to make you laugh.”

“With a book by Brooks (who’s now 91) and Thomas Meehan, and music and lyrics provided by Brooks alone, the show broadly sticks to the plot of the movie and includes most of the time-honoured gags – the “walk this way” routine, the word-play with “werewolves” and “knockers” etc etc.”

“Silly and shameless from start to finish.”

“Susan Stroman, who directs, is so witty and inventive in her choreography, that she sometimes arguably steals her own thunder.”

Paul Taylor, Independent

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STAR RATING Time Out

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

“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. 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.”

Alice Saville, Time Out

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“Mel Brooks’s adaptation of his own cult film is slimmed down and packed full of zany silliness for its West End premiere.”

“Yet there are darts of wit in unexpected places, as well as a bawdy delight in some truly awful double-entendres. Even if there’s a tendency to milk good jokes dry, it’s hard not to succumb to the infectious daftness of this escapist crowd-pleaser.”

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

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STAR RATING The Times

“This new production of Mel Brooks’s musical about everyone’s favourite mad scientist is a hoot, not to mention a howl, at least when our where-wolves are around.”

Ann Treneman, Times

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STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“Want to howl with laughter? Walk this way.”

“If you can overlook the fact that no, it doesn’t reach the same zenith of inspired zaniness as The Producers, the fact is that Brooksy has pulled it off. You somehow get the best of both worlds. 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. ”

“I’m awarding it a “mere” four stars because I don’t think audiences should go in over-expectant – and clearly fans will get more out of it than the uninitiated – but I expect the majority to hand it that extra star themselves on the way out. Very silly and entirely welcome.”

Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph

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STAR RATING Financial Times

“Brooks’s songs are jovial (showing a particular taste for triplet rhymes), but nothing to make you want to get on your feet. It’s a solid bet for an evening’s fun, but hardly the kind of landmark that rears up atop a stark Transylvanian crag.”

Ian Shuttleworth, FT

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STAR RATING The Stage

“Brooks has been tinkering with the show in the intervening years but tinkering will only take you so far. For every catchy song, there’s one pulled from the jar marked ‘filler.”

“Young Frankenstein would be a middling musical even were it not for the Nixon-era sexual politics. The Producers worked so well on stage because it had Broadway in its blood. Young Frankenstein, as much Wilder’s baby as Brooks’, was steeped in cinema and the journey from screen to stage leaves it feeling exposed – and very much a thing of its time.”

Natasha Tripney, The Stage

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