Frederick Frankenstein – Hadley Fraser
Frau Blucher – Lesley Joseph
Igor – Ross Noble
Elizabeth Benning – Dianne Pilkington
Inga – Summer Strallen
Inspector Kemp/Hermit – Patrick Clancy
The Monster – Shuler Hensley
Venue: Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Date: Saturday 26th August 2017
This was a truly special Theatre trip because it is the first time Young Frankenstein has been performed in the UK. Newcastle was picked as the venue to test and try the show out before it opens for previews in the West End at the Garrick Theatre in September. I honestly feel truly honoured that we got an incredible experience like this in Newcastle. The previews before the West End don’t usually come this far North! Hopefully this will really help change things, especially considering the legend that is Mel Brooks was also in attendance, coming on stage at the end as well. Something I still cannot quite believe happened in all honesty, truly honoured by the experience and extra special treat.
The musical is based on Mel Brooks’ film of the same name, with many of the hilarious and much-loved moments from the film on stage with some truly funny and catchy musical songs. This really is a funny and special show, I honestly don’t think I have ever laughed and enjoyed a musical as much as this one. It really has taken the Musical Comedy and given you so many moments to fall about laughing with. Some updated and very relevant jokes as well.
This was opening night and we were given an introduction from Director Susan Stroman who informed the audience that it was the first time it was going to be fully performed and the first time they had an audience. So we had to be prepared for any stoppages, something that did not happen. I honestly would have had no idea at all that it was the first time they had fully performed the show, it was that good!
The story sees Frederick Frankenstein head to Transylvania to settle his Grandfathers affairs, in denial about his name and does not want to be sucked into the world of creating monsters. Igor when meeting him from the train has other ideas and it doesn’t take long for Fredrick to get into that world when he realises what he can create. With housekeeper Frau Blucher and assistant Inga they create a wild adventure with the Monster they want to prove is actually nice and can be kind. Mixed together with some fantastically hilarious songs it really is such a great show.
The production is huge with plenty of special effects and set changes which happen so naturally and add an extra edge to the story and different moments that occur. Allowing the actors to really get stuck into the incredibly funny material. I have to mention the lovely tribute to Bruce Forsyth which really went down very well with the audience, very fitting but I am unsure how long that will be left in the show.
Performance wise everyone was totally outstanding in the roles. Ross Noble brought so much energy to Igor and was such a joy and pleasure to watch from start to finish. Must be such a difficult role to take on when he must bounce around the stage crouched down for most of it. His delivery of what were many people’s favourite lines was spot on and he really manages to take his comedic background into the role. Hadley Fraser leading the show was absolutely brilliant, he had such incredible charisma and charm. You could not help but like the character a very impressive singing voice as well which really added to the level of performance. Lesley Joseph is one of my favourites and it was great to see her on stage again, in such a challenging and interesting role. Her rendition of ‘He Vas My Boyfriend’ was absolutely hilarious and brilliant. I loved hearing such a warm applause when she first appeared on stage as well. Summer Strallen probably had the trickiest roles as Inga with some of the ways she has to speak with the accents, I was very impressed with how she handled and delivered everything with that. Not forgetting to mention Dianne Pilkington who totally steals the stage when she returns and then with ‘Deep Love’ which really is an incredible song!
Each musical number has such drive and energy as well as very clever lyrics, make sure you pay close attention with some of the songs though as it will help you really appreciate them so much more! I was so impressed with the show I have bought a ticket to go again before it finishes the two-week run in Newcastle. I really think it will be well received in the West End transfer as well. We all need to laugh a little bit more and seeing this show will certainly make you very happy.
A truly special and added bonus was that Mel Brooks was in attendance at this performance receiving an applause and standing ovation from the audience, sitting in the stalls. To make it even better he went on stage at the end to congratulate the cast and talked about how much he liked it in Newcastle. Certainly a once in a lifetime event, I was totally made up about it all an incredible theatre moment after a very impressive show. Which got a full standing ovation from the appreciative crowd who enjoyed every single minute.