Broadway-Premiere: “Young Frankenstein” - die ersten Kritiken

Mel Brooks hat zumindest einmal die Broadway-Premiere seines neuen Musicals “Young Frankenstein” in der vergangenen Nacht hinter sich gebracht. Wie und ob die Show die Kritiken überstehen wird, die derzeit langsam hereintröpfeln, wird eine Frage sein, mit der er sich die nächsten Tage und Wochen beschäftigen muss. Hier ein paar Ausschnitte:

New York Times

We may as well start with the obvious questions about “Young Frankenstein,” the really big show from Mel Brooks that opened last night at the Hilton Theater. The answer to all of them is no.
No, it is not nearly as good as “The Producers,” Mr. Brooks’s previous Broadway musical. No, it is not as much fun as the 1974 Mel Brooks movie, also called “Young Frankenstein,” on which it is based. No, it does not provide $450 worth of pleasure (that being its record-setting price for “premier seating”).
Well, unless you measure your pleasure in decibels. Even by the blaring standards of Broadway, “Young Frankenstein,” directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, stands out for its loudness — in its ear-splitting amplification, eye-splitting visual effects and would-be side-splitting jokes. It’s as if the production had been built on the premise that its audiences would be slow on the uptake and hard of hearing, the sort of folks who would say: “That pun flew right by me. Could you repeat it a couple of times, louder?” (…)
If I haven’t said much about the musical numbers, it’s because they mostly blend together. Mr. Brooks’s songs have a throwaway quality, as if they were dashed off on the day of the performance, and mostly they lack the witty affection for period styles of “The Producers.” Ms. Stroman, too, often seems on automatic pilot as a choreographer.
There is one truly exhilarating number, though you have to sit through most of the show before it arrives. It comes when Dr. Frankenstein introduces his show-business-trained creature to the world by having him perform Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz.” Ms. Stroman pulls out all the stops (and most of the usual contents of her bag of dance tricks) for this one, evoking a catalog of top-hat styles. But what really makes it fly is Mr. Hensley’s evocation of the monster’s pleasure in what he’s doing. This big galoot of a mannequin is being seduced by the singular joys of musical comedy and loving it. For the first and only time in the show, so are we.
This jolt of feeling isn’t enough to erase the impression that from its opening number, “Young Frankenstein” has never stopped screeching at you. This means that: (a) it has soon worn out its voice, and (b) it leaves you with a monster-size headache.


A funny thing happened on the way to Broadway. Actually, not so funny. When it tried out in Seattle over summer, Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” had most of the elements in place to suggest a winning new monster musical was percolating in the lab. All it required was tightening and a little work to nurture its own personality, instead of just replicating the gags of Brooks’
1974 film. Well, the editing has been minimal and the development even less.
If the robust advance — reportedly north of $30 million — is any indication, audiences hungry for a big, splashy comedy might not care. But a show that could have been a blast ends up being just good enough. (…)
“Young Frankenstein” has no shortage of chuckles, a stellar cast and generous production values (full appreciation of which can be found in Variety’s Seattle review of Aug. 24). But it’s a far more mechanical creation, with little of the heart or liberating belly laughs of its predecessor. (…)
In Seattle, it seemed that further polishing might at least camouflage these shortcomings. But Broadway provides a more unforgiving spotlight. That’s particularly the case in the Hilton Theater, an intimacy-deprived barn in which it’s hard to play anything, let alone comedy. Not helped by an assaultive but unclear sound mix, the cast works hard but gets a little lost onstage, and many of the jokes along with them.

USA Today

It’s alive — but just barely. If there’s fun to be found in Young Frankenstein (* * ½ out of four), Mel Brooks’ latest movie-to-Broadway-musical transformation, it’s all the result of the giddy, goodwill-laden charms of the original. What worked on film works, for the most part, on stage. It’s when the show gets inventive, expansive and, well, musical that it gets into trouble.

am New York

What went wrong in “Young Frankenstein”?
1. Terrible theater: While “The Producers” was housed at the St. James, one of Broadway’s best theaters, “Young Frankenstein” is at the Hilton, an awkward, oversized barn of a space.
2. Miscasting. Roger Bart is a funny guy, but he lacks the star power to carry the show as Frankenstein. The talents of Sutton Foster, as sexpot lab assistant Inga, and Megan Mullally, as fiancé Elizabeth, are totally wasted in supporting roles. But Shuler Hensley (the Monster), Andrea Martin (Frau Blucher) and Christopher Fitzgerald (Igor) are wonderful, providing unadulterated slapstick entertainment.
3. Bad songs. Nothing in the entire “Young Frankenstein” score compares with gems from “The Producers” like “The King of Old Broadway,” “Springtime for Hitler,” “I Want to Be a Producer” or “Keep It Gay.”
4. Uninspired choreography. Nothing in “Young Frankenstein” demands dancing. Nevertheless, Susan Stroman has awkwardly inserted dance sequences like “Transylvania Mania” and an extended version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
5. Flat jokes. For the most part, Brooks merely copies the film’s dialogue. All his new stuff, unfortunately, is plain boring.

Los Angeles Times

The question isn’t so much what’s wrong as what’s not ecstatically right. Let’s start with the Busby Berkeley busyness that Stroman keeps distractingly conjuring. These routines titillate, but they’re belabored, and in a show that’s about 20 minutes too long, they begin to grate. (…)
What does it say about a musical when its sets, designed by Robin Wagner and atmospherically lighted by Peter Kaczorowski, are most impressive when enhanced by film? The most visually spectacular moments occur when Igor drives Dr. Frankenstein and Inga, who are enjoying a “roll in the hay” meet-and-greet, to the castle and Transylvania whisks by in all its black-and-white eeriness.

Chicago Tribune

“Young Frankenstein” has a roughly $20 million budget, some $450 orchestra seats, an iconic 1974 source movie, performers with better pedigrees than the Queen of England’s corgis and heaps of goodwill flowing from the way its eminently lovable creator, the 81-year-old Mel Brooks, made the Rialto roar in 2001 with “The Producers.”
And yet it’s a colossal — and, boy, is this show a monster — disappointment.
The central problem, which should have been fixed out of town, is perfectly simple. The passive central character doesn’t seem to want anything in particular. And thus nothing drives the show. Nobody was expecting Brooks to recast his famed homage to James Whale’s 1931 “Frankenstein” movie as “War and Peace.” But even satiric musicals need something energetic to propel the show along. It can be a quest to produce the worst Broadway show on Earth. A desperate need to find the Holy Grail. Whatever. It doesn’t even have to make sense. But it has to be there. It ain’t here.

London Telegraph

Once again Brooks has written the score himself, though his composing actually consists of humming the tunes to someone who can write music. His brassy show songs are enjoyable, but there is nothing as wonderfully over the top here as Springtime for Hitler in The Producers.
As the deformed, wild-eyed Igor, Christopher Fitzgerald is nothing like as weird and wonderful as Marty Feldman in the movie, while Megan Mullally could make more of the ice-queen fiancée who celebrates the joy of sex with a hugely endowed monster in a tasteless little ditty called Deep Love.
Sutton Foster is a delight, however, as the lovely Inga (rarely can an invitation to a roll in the hay have seemed more enticing) while Susan Stroman directs and choreographs with her usual wit and invention.
But you cannot escape the impression that everyone is working desperately hard to animate essentially weak material, and the show fatally lacks that touch of the sublime that made The Producers so special.

- Time: Monster Mashed
- Reuters: “Young Frankenstein” a costly croud-pleaser
- Boston.com: Lumbering “Frankenstein” is too pumped up
- Washington Post: “Young Frankenstein” Sure Could Use Some Better Funny Bones
- New York Post: Not Quite A Monster


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