The celebrity sighting – coming just a few days after exchanging smiles with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes at Il Cantinori – made me smile. So did the usher who informed me and Cindy that our seats would be upgraded since the theater wasn’t at full capacity.
“Young Frankenstein,” a musical remake of the 1974 film, gets off to a rollicking start with a pair of lively song and dance numbers, one of which introduces lead Roger Bart (Frederick Frankenstein) during a clever ode to his fascination with the brain. The hand of legendary Mel Brooks is unmistakable here, with his signature slapstick comedy and ribald humor very much at play.
Unfortunately, Brooks’ uneven script is weighed down by many moments that fall flat. And the show is so overloaded with double entendres -- a housekeeper sings about being “plowed” by her “farmer,” a hay ride that’s about a roll in the hay, you get the picture -- it almost seems like Brooks is trying too hard to get a laugh.
Thankfully, Roger Bart does an admirable job of rising above the thin material he’s given to work with. The Broadway veteran and former “Desperate Housewives” star (he played scheming pharmacist George) performs the show’s funniest moments with perfect comedic timing and irresistible charm. Beth Leveal (Frau Blucher) and Christopher Fitzgerald (Igor) are equally entertaining as Dr. Frankenstein’s high-strung sidekicks in scientific experimentation.
“Young Frankenstein” is far from being Brooks’ best work, but it delivers enough laughs to be considered a decent night at the theater. And, having never seen the film, it‘s given me another title to add to my NetFlix list.