Is the $20 million stage version of "Young Frankenstein" a monster hit or miss?
Most New York critics were decidedly cool to the new Mel Brooks musical that opened Thursday at Broadway’s Hilton Theatre, although the show reportedly has a more than $30 million advance that should cushion the negative reaction.
The Associated Press called the production, based on Brooks’ acclaimed 1974 film, "a scattered, fitfully entertaining show," with praise for the hardworking cast but thumbs down for Brooks’ "pale pastiche of a score." Sniffed The New York Times: "Money can’t buy you flair. It can’t even buy you laughs."
The Daily News said the musical "never matches the delirious thrills of `The Producers’ (Brooks’ previous Broadway success)," while staying "close to the movie without really improving it."
Newsday said, "Something’s wrong in Transylvania when the only thing in stitches is the creature’s face." The New York Post, however, called the musical "nearly very good indeed" with special praise for the book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan and the choreography of Susan Stroman.
Variety, which had given the show an encouraging review during its Seattle tryout, said "A funny thing happened on the way to Broadway. Actually, not so funny. … A show that could have been a blast ends up being just good enough."
Out-of-town reviews were equally tepid — or worse. The Boston Globe cautioned, "Reanimation is a tricky business. … There’s something lumbering and clunky about this rehash." The Chicago Tribune termed the show "a colossal — and, boy, is this show a monster — disappointment," while the Los Angeles Times opined: "Moribund as it sometimes is, `Young Frankenstein’ still flickers with life."