Mel Brooks knocked
out of the ball park with
He struck out with
Mel Brooks knocked “it” out of the ball park with “The Producers.” He struck out with “Young Frankenstein.”
He took the 1974 cult movie he directed and wrote with Gene Wilder, took his same collaborators from “The Producers”, took $16 million and seemed to throw it all against a blank canvas and came up with a disjointed, rather joyless mess.
We expect Brooks to be irreverent, campy and smutty with the genre that only Brooks could get away with, but when camp is simply there to throw one classless genital joke after another for the effect of comedy, the whole thing turns into a exaggerated bawdy burlesque extravaganza. Many of the jokes were taken from the movie but did not translate to the stage due to milking them to death.
Robert Bart as Dr. Frankenstein and Shuler Hensley as the Monster reprise their Broadway roles and have a few, aha moments. Their “Puttin’ on The Ritz” number does alert your attention. Anne Horak’s turn in the hayride scene and her yodel number was a highlight. Brad Oscar’s blind hermit had a few fine sparks.
Robin Wagner’s scenery and special effects, William Ivey Long’s costumes and Peter Kaczorowski’s lighting look like $16 million. But Brooks’ songs and music were really lackluster and sounded like he popped them out as the show needed a number at that moment and he was tired.
Susan Stroman’s direction and choreography were not up to her usual pristine ability. It seemed that the whole thing was stitched together as she went along with an energetic cast that has nothing to work with.
“Young Frankenstein” opened on Broadway Nov. 8, 2007 to mixed reviews and closed after 484 performances. The Broadway top opening night ticket for its “differential seating” went for $450 a pop. (That had to be Brooks’s idea of a joke.)
“Young Frankenstein” was not my idea of a good time, but then there may be some out there that have a leaning to anything that Brooks does.
Be my guest.
Where: Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor at Market, San Francisco
When: Sunday 3 p.m. through July 25
Details: (415) 551-2000 or www.shnsf.com