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Frankenstein is let loose in Cleveland's Playhouse Square, but the only thing to fear is mediocrity

Drew Scheeler

Issue date: 10/30/09 Section: Focus
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The Young Frankenstein marquee promised a musical comparable to Mel Brooks' 1974 comedic film classic, but the play's script failed to live up to expectations.
The Young Frankenstein marquee promised a musical comparable to Mel Brooks' 1974 comedic film classic, but the play's script failed to live up to expectations.
[Click to enlarge]
When Mel Brooks released the astronomically successful The Producers in 2001, critics and audiences wondered which of his lucrative properties would be the focus of the inevitable follow-up. A lyric in The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein makes it abundantly clear that they'll "be back with Blazing Saddles."

Hopefully Mel Brooks will decide to leave that franchise alone.

The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein, playing now at Playhouse Square, doesn't have much going for it. Sure, the cast is good and the music is good and the set is good and the energy is good. But, that is its problem: it doesn't possess anything beyond "good" or anything that is brilliantly original to make it a must-see show.

Roger Bart is charismatic, if not entirely convincing, in his role as (young) Dr. Frankenstein. Bart may have originated the role on Broadway, but his performance is more Snoopy than morally ambiguous song and dance man. Although he has been shunning his past, Dr. "Fronkensteen" needs to travel back to his ancestral homeland of Transylvania Heights to claim his inheritance. While there, he decides to speak almost entirely in innuendos and "resurrect" his grandfather's research. A monster is born, havoc ensues, and a happy ending is had by all.

There's everything you would expect from a musical adaptation of the film: lots of innuendo, cringeworthy wordplay and Frau Blücher's whinnying horses. But, Mel Brooks' script is not written for a generation of South Park viewers who have become accustomed to intelligent social satire. Brooks is writing for the over sixty-five crowd that fondly remembers his work on assorted variety shows and Get Smart.

Instead of having several memorable songs, Frankenstein's entire soundtrack is a blurred pastiche of every successful musical in the past forty years. Expect no odes to the joys of celibacy as several numbers would cause Hugh Hefner to blush at their forwardness. Sure, "Please Don't Touch Me" and "He Vas My Boyfriend" are entertaining, but there is only so far before the show crosses from hysterically suggestive to flat.
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In This Issue

News

  • A conversation with Keith Lupton
  • Attempts to balance Ohio budget face ever-changing obstacles
  • Can you name this place?
  • CWRU loses to Oberlin in first round of most vegetarian-friendly college contest
  • Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing receives $3.7 million in federal stimulus grants
  • Have you heard about National Society of Collegiate Scholars?
  • Overheard at Case
  • SEC votes to hold referendum on Media Board salaries
  • The college student's guide to credit cards
  • USG Briefs

Sports

  • Cuban is wrong on steroids
  • Suddenly swift
  • Teams kick off season at Rochester

Fun Page

  • Combo Scramble Solution
  • Maze Solution
  • Sudoku Solutions

Opinion

  • 'Home' for the holidays
  • Editorial: Campus vegetarian options don't always deliver
  • On gay rights, Constitution does not apply morality to equality
  • Rwandan genocide convicts should serve sentences in home country
  • SafeRide/campus escorts need improvement
  • Sex not a joking matter
  • State your case: What's the best way to kill a zombie?
  • US culture sets down roots in Argentina

Focus

  • Coen brothers' A Serious Man proves to be serious
  • Diaz, Marsden, Kelly speak about new morality drama, The Box
  • Hitting the Spot: Other Girls
  • Mather Dance Center assembles fall collection of dance pieces to be collectively performed as Returning
  • Nutrition: Mac 'n' cheese done healthy
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern probes questions
  • The Buzz
  • The hottest hair for 2009: dress up your tresses
  • The Starving Student Report: brief reviews of local eateries

Cross Country

  • Host Spartans finish second in conference women's race, eighth in men's

Football

  • Football Gameday: Case vs. Carnegie Mellon
  • Ground game carries Spartans to 8-0

Soccer

  • Spartans outplay, but can't outlast Emory and stay winless in UAA
  • Spartans secure winning season; team regionally ranked

Spartan Spotlight

  • Spartan Spotlight: Jenna Yaney

Worst Case Scenario

  • The stalker's futility
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