Edelman: Shtick with Mel Brooks for Laughs

From 2,000 year old man and “Your Show of Shows” to “Spaceballs” and that monster hit Broadway musical about two conniving Producers, Mel Brooks has more than proven that he knows how to make us laugh.

The first-class production of his latest oeuvre “Young Frankestein” (now through Sunday at the Music Hall) caps that career– though I hope he’s not finished yet– with a yuck-fest that’ll make you forget about all about winter weather and the state of the economy. It’s two and a half hours of mindless fun that should be on top of everybody’s stimulus list.

And what a cast. I can’t remember seeing three Broadway stars– including two reprising their original roles– on the Music Hall stage at the same time. Yet, there they are– Roger Bart and Shuler Hensley, the show’s original Main Stem stars, and Brad Oscar, who was nominated for “The Producers.” It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Bart makes playing the eponymous role look so effortless that at times he seems to be phoning it in. He was the best thing about “Desperate Housewives” seasons 1 and 2. You can catch all of that talent and energy on stage at the Music Hall, where he’s having a ball, reprising a role he invented — with the help of Herr Brooks and director/choreographer Susan Stroman, of course.

I saw the show on Broadway and liked Shuler Hensley’s Monster better last night. He seemed looser, more devil-may-care in the part of the big green guy. And what a voice– when he lets go with that bass baritone in Act 2, you remember why he made such a scary yet very real Jud Fry in the Broadway revival of “Oklahoma.”

Oscar gets the dialect parts once again (he played the German playwright of “Springtime for Hitler” in “The Producers”) and knocks them out of the park. Cory English, who played the role on Broadway, delivers as Igor, though the role makes me miss Marty Feldman from the movie. I thought Joanna Glushak was a bit shrill as Frau Blucher– couldn’t hear all of the lines for her over-the-top delivery. Beth Curry has a nice, if brief, turn as the Doctor’s fiance who leaves her man once she decides the Monster drives a harder bargain, if you know what I mean.

I loved Anne Horak as Inga, Frankenstein’s leggy, sexy assistant. Right off a St Pauli Girl bottle, this Inga had much more fun with the sex thing than Broadway original Sutton Foster, who, for all of her immense talent, had a harder time, methinks, coming off as the girl you can’t keep your hands off. Horak’s interplay with Bart was one of the better fleshed out (pun intended) relationships on stage last night. And the girl can sing and dance forever.

But Inga had no lock on the babe department. Like Brooks’ other stage hit, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is loaded with leggy, lissome blondes in just enough clothing to keep it legal.
Surround these beauties with the rest of a talented cast and a creepy castle full of dick and tit jokes and you’ve got one very funny night at the theater.

Thanks, Mel, for keeping it unreal.

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