Posts Tagged ‘Schuler Hensley’

There are times in every theatre-goers life when they just want fun, which is exactly what this show delivers. Mel Brooks will never win any awards for subtlety, sophistication or political correctness, but when it comes to big laughs and huge fun, he sweeps the board.

Like The Producers musical adaptation before it, the show is based on his own 1974 film, adapted by Brooks himself (with Thomas Meehan contributing to the book) 33 years later, and it’s taken another 10 to cross the Atlantic, apparently improved and rewritten. As musicals go, it’s small scale, and achieves an intimacy at the Garrick Theatre that makes you feel like you’re sharing a joke with your friends.

There’s little need to outline the story, though it’s never been so loud, brash, cheeky or rude before. The songs will be remembered more for how they emerge from the tale than their quality as songs. It’s packed with sight gags, not always new, but always funny. The designs makes a virtue of the fact they’re old school (all painted screens and flats). The performances are broad, but impeccably executed. Above all, the smile rarely leaves your face and you often ache from laughter.

Hadley Fraser is simply superb as Frankenstein, with that manic twinkle in his eye, athletic movement, fine vocals and impeccable comic timing. Ross Noble is a revelation as hunchback Igor; stand-up’s loss is a real gain for musical theatre. Lesley Joseph is popular casting as the housekeeper Frau Blucher, whose voice alone scares the horses, themselves brilliantly cast! There’s a Strallen of course, and Summer delivers the comic goods as well as the fine vocals we’ve become used to. I haven’t seen much of Dianne Pilkington’s work, but she’s terrific here as Frankenstein’s fiancee. Schuler Hensley is a great monster and Patrick Clancy doubles up brilliantly as the Inspector and the Hermit (I didn’t know it was the same man until his curtain call!). It’s superbly cast and their combined sense of fun sweeps you away – they’re clearly having as much fun as the audience.

Some will find it crude, some corny, some tacky, but if you go just to have some very welcome fun you won’t be disappointed.

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