With an unexpected free evening in London, Dan and I grabbed last minute tickets to see Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre. Although we were familiar with Mel Brooks, neither of us had seen the 1974 film on which the musical is based. We went in cold, hoping for the best.
Prior to the show we had a quick curry directly across the street at the Maharaja of India.
We had about forty-five minutes and asked them if they could serve us in a hurry. They agreed, but they were grumpy about it! The curry is very good and they did serve us quickly, but I would recommend only eating here if you're not in a rush.
Here I am outside of the Garrick Theatre with a poster of Young Frankenstein.
Here is a picture of the cast. None of the names were familiar, but they all gave a top-notch performance.
Here is a view from our seats: not bad for a last-minute booking. We got our tickets at one of the discount ticket booths, but Dan spoiled me by splurging on the best seats he was able to get. They were great!
Young Frankenstein is the story of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Hadley Fraser), an American medical student who is the nephew of the infamous mad-scientist, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Frederick is embarrassed to be associated with his crazy uncle, yet when his uncle dies, Frederick is more than happy to inherit the family estate in Transylvania.
Frederick leaves his high-maintenance fiancee, Elizabeth (Dianne Pilkington) in New York and travels to Europe. He is greeted at the train station by his uncle's servant, Igor (Cory English) and introduced to a beautiful new lab assistant, Inga (Summer Strallen). Frederick is immediately attracted to Inga. On the carriage ride back to the estate, Igor fends off werewolves without Frederick noticing, trying to maintain the image that nothing in amiss.
At the estate, Frederick is introduced to the no-nonsense housekeeper, Fru Blucher (Lesley Joseph). Although it is kept hidden, Frederick manages to uncover his uncle's secret lab and rather than being mortified, he becomes intrigued by the possibility of reanimation. His uncle's experiments no longer seem outlandish.
Igor is eager to help Frederick resume the experiments and the two steal a corpse of a recently executed criminal. Frederick decides that he will transplant the brain of a local scholar into the corpse, bringing back the mind of a revered individual. It's Igor's job to steal the brain of the scholar and when that goes awry, a brain from a jar labeled "abnormal" is transplanted instead. How will Frederick cope with his newly reanimated creation, a mob of angry townspeople, and a fiancee who makes a surprise visit just as his relationship with Inga is heating up?
As I mentioned earlier, Dan and I went in with little expectations. We didn't know the story or the music, and we hadn't read any reviews. I did enjoy the stage version of Brooks' The Producers, which like Young Frankenstein, was also directed by Susan Stroman. Luckily, within the first musical number, we knew that it was going to be a great night at the theater.
Young Frankenstein is hilarious. I don't think we stopped laughing and smiling throughout the entire show. My cheeks and belly hurt! It is a true ensemble piece and every single performer gave it 110%. They were all so talented that it's impossible to pick the best performer or even a favorite character. Young Frankenstein has memorable songs and is quirky.
I've since read that the original Broadway show had mixed-reviews and that the London version has been reworked. I'm not sure what has been altered, but the version we saw is great. The London run closes in August, so make sure to see it asap. Young Frankenstein is a throughly entertaining show that I highly recommend!