Friday, August 24, 2007

Seattle Times: Young Frankenstein's Shtick Gets Old

Seattle Times: Young Frankenstein's Shtick Gets Old

The first official "mainstream media" review of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein is out from Misha Berson of The Seattle Times.

You may recall from my "preview" that I gleefully credited "Brooks and Thomas Meehan for embracing all of the signature lines and hysterical bits from the film and running with them."

Apparently, Berson is having none of that.

In fact, the review explicitly states, "[I]t has not yet escaped the looming shadow of its celluloid model and come into its own. Staged by (Susan) Stroman with impressive fluidity given its heft, Young Frankenstein has a cast of expert merry-makers, shtick galore, winning dance numbers, elaborate sets by Robin Wagner that are marvels of seamless stage technology, and all the explosions, fog, and wowie lighting effects (by Peter Kaczorowski) a rumored $20 million budget can buy. But the humor is choppy, and the one-liners repeated from the film script (by Brooks and Gene Wilder) can fall flat. The musical is freshest and funniest in the second act, when it stops doggedly aping the film, and lets the actors concoct their own comic chemistry."

Of the cast, Christopher Fitzgerald (Igor) is deemed "terrific," exuding "much goofy verve of his own" and the "incomparable" Andrea Martin gets well-earned praise ("her brooding Frau Blucher is a wacko joy").

However, the leads aren't registering with Berson.

Roger Bart is "the actor most burdened" who "overworks the exasperated shrieking he borrows from Wilder's Frederick. One hopes Bart finds his own groove soon." Megan Mullally "is amusing, but not virginal -- which undercuts the joke of Elizabeth's sexual awakening." Sutton Foster is "a fine singer, a champion yodeler, and a dexterous dancer. But she barely registers a personality."

In summary, I'll leave the final word to Berson, who concludes: "And though it may well draw crowds in any case, a less clonelike Young Frankenstein would be a better justification for all the expense and talent lavished on this celluloid spin-off when it lurches onto Broadway."

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for Young Frankenstein tickets (Seattle).
Click here for Young Frankenstein tickets (Broadway).
Related Stories:
Riedel's Deep Abby Normal?(August 17, 2007)
Young Frankenstein (The SOB Preview) (August 13, 2007)
Will These Eyes Meet? Hoping For Better Than 75% (August 10, 2007)
Is Mel Worth It? (August 4, 2007)
Thanks, Mel! (July 6, 2007)
What Motivates You To See A Broadway Show? (July 5, 2007)
That's Franken$$$$$TEIN! (June 29, 2007)
Cloris To Mel: Put Up Your Dukes! (June 13, 2007)
Pirate Queen Set To Abdicate Hilton Throne (June 6, 2007)
Billion Dollar Broadway Baby? Almost. (May 30, 2007)
Mel Brooks: "It Looks Like The Hilton Theatre" (May 25, 2007)
End Of Plank For Pirate Queen? (May 18, 2007)
It's Official: Mullally Cast In Young Frankenstein (March 9, 2007)
The Hits From Coast To Coast (March 8, 2007)
Whither Goeth Chenoweth? (February 27, 2007)
Producers Out, Young Frankenstein In (February 22, 2007)
That's FrankenSTEEN: Just In Time For Halloween (January 24, 2007)
M-G-M: Movies-Going-Musical (January 3, 2007)
Young Frankenstein Workshop To Feature Monster Casting (October 11, 2006)

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2 Comments:

At 25 August, 2007, Anonymous Eric of maninchair.com said...

Hmmm. I guess that's why they call them "critics." I think even with lukewarm reviews, this one's gonna be around for awhile. Glad you enjoyed it more than Berson.

 
At 25 August, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Eric, David Rooney posted his review in Variety late yesterday that sounded many of the same themes, albeit with a bit more enthusiasm.

Best to remember that Young Frankenstein is still a work in progress! But whatever the case, this is sure to be a huge crowdpleaser.

 

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