Based on the film of the same name, Mel Brooks managed to transform it into an equally hilarious musical with the help of Thomas Meehan who helped create the book and director Susan Stroman.
It may have opened on Broadway to mixed reviews, but as this immensely enjoyable cast recording proves – musically it was a great showcase for the trademark wit and humour of Mel Brooks.
While every element of the music has a great sense of theatricality and classic Broadway style about it, the lyrics have a sharpness about them that some of those who might be less familiar with the work of Brooks find slightly shocking or out of place in this #MeToo era as heard on ‘He Vas My Boyfriend’ for example. But it has to be remembered that this is a parody and it is never meant to be taken too seriously.
It should also be noted that the female characters are actually given some of the more stronger numbers in the show – including ‘Please Don’t Touch Me’ performed with great flair and personality by Megan Mullally as Elizabeth, while Sutton Foster’s (who played Inga in the show) rendition of ‘Listen to Your Heart’ has a lovely sultriness to it.
The whole album also manages to convey the story as well, ensuring that the listener is never lost in what is unfolding. This is brilliantly highlighted in ‘The Happiest Town in Town’ for example, which sets the story up nicely very early on. It is very consistent in tone and narrative, that even simply listening to the songs give a clear insight into the characters.
For me though, the songs and performances that really shine through in particular are Roger Bart as Frederick – whose rendition of ‘The Brain’ really captures the eccentricity of the character as well as his passion for science and experimentation. Meanwhile, I also enjoyed Megan Mullally’s performance of ‘Surprise’ that highlights the character’s confidence, vanity in a delightfully charming way.
There is plenty to be enjoyed on this cast album which is brimming with talent, personality and quirkiness that makes it distinctive from other cast recordings.
By Emma Clarendon
The Broadway cast recording of Young Frankenstein is available to buy now.