Recorded on November 12th, less than a week after the lengthily titledÂ The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein opened at the Hilton Theatre in New York City, this original broadway cast recording captures the life, laughs and ludicrousness of Mel Brooks’Â new musical adaptation (music and lyrics by Mel Brooks). Following on the heels of the incredibly successful Broadway hit The Producers (12 Tony Awards, count ‘em), Young Frankenstein seems set to do more than just live in that production’s shadow.
Working on many levels, includingÂ as a parody of ’30s musical extravaganzas, this soundtrack kicks off withÂ the applicablyÂ exhilirating “Overture” mixing in aspects of the songs to come and preparing listeners for the buoyant energy found throughout the album. The opening song “The Happiest Town in Town” manages to be both a pleasing curtain opener parodyÂ and a decent intro song in its own right, introducing the history of the Frankensteins and the new Dr. Frankenstein immediately. Working in some typical Mel BrooksÂ wordplay gagsÂ like:
“No more Frankenstein!”
“You can say that again!”
“No more Frankenstein!”
Each tune plays out with typical Broadway enthusiasm, and though many of Mel Brooks’ gags have been seen (and heard) before, they still work impressively here, drawing out both laughs and musical respect from listeners. The quick-witted, quick-talking lyrics of “The Brain” and the buddy-tune inspired “Together Again” especially evoke the Broadway hits of yesteryear, while off-beatÂ tracks like “He Vas My Boyfriend” sung by the enigmatic Frau Blucher (Andrea Martin) and “Please Don’t Touch Me” – whereÂ Will & Grace‘s Megan Mullally puts her distinctive voice to impressive use as Frankenstein’s self-importantÂ fiance Elizabeth – help remind listeners that this is not your typical Broadway show.
Whether or not listeners have seen the Broadway show, or the original film for that matter, the songs themselves will tell the majority of the story pretty clearly. This recording evenÂ manages to embody the kinetic, hilarious energy into the audio realm. Recording so soon after opening night proved to be a wise decision as the freshness of the tunes are still present in every track.Â The cd insertÂ featuresÂ the obligatoryÂ few cast pictures and the complete transcript of lyrics.
While the entire cast is vocally inspired, Roger Bart as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein stands out with his pitch perfect character-drivenÂ vocals reminiscent of parody kingÂ ”Weird Al” Yankovic. Megan Mullally is impressive as ElizabethÂ and Christopher Fitzgerald as Igor delivers a memorable performance by belting out pluck and pizzazz on every track. Shuler Hensley also makes a surprisingly well-trained singing monster in “Finale Ultimo,”Â especially since he’s merely grunting for most of the show. The entire company manages the show with – dare I say it? – show-stopping vocal prowess, and anyone who’s seen the show, or even thought about it, will not be disappointed by this cast recording.
Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: Any fan of Mel Brooks, musicals, or monsters (and not necessarily in that order)
Stay Away if: Showtunes just don’t do it for you, even when they’re jokes