Okay, it's not "The Producers." Mel Brooks tries really hard to duplicate the critical and audience success he achieved with another musical version of yet another of his classic film comedies, but it just doesn't quite make it. Is it funny? Yes, of course; it is Mel Brooks, after all. Does it feature top-notch actors? Several, especially the two who created their roles in this musical on Broadway, are excellent. Will you leave humming any songs from the score? A couple new songs ("He Vas My Boyfriend" and "Deep Love") stick in your head along with Irving Berlin's classic, "Puttin' on the Ritz," the highly anticipated, big production number from the film version. So what's not to love here?
"The Producers" is a comedy about theater people and show business. Therefore it makes sense to adapt it to the stage, being a logical transfer from one medium to another. However, adapting a parody of a low-budget horror film for the stage and adding lots of superfluous songs, manic choreography, additional characters, huge sets and special effects doesn't work quite as well.
That said, there are still many laughs to be found in this musical version, especially if bawdy boob, phallic and flatulence jokes are your cup of tea. Brooks's material is R-rated with double entendres and sight gags aplenty. If you expect classy humor or if you are easily offended, this probably isn't the show for you.
Leading actor Roger Bart seems much more relaxed this time around in the role of Victor Frankenstein. While on Broadway he pushed the comedy too hard, here he even comes off as understated, although more frenetic moments follow as the story progresses. Shuler Hensley remains excellent as the Monster, eventually demonstrating his considerable song-and-dance talents. Brad Oscar does a fine job in the dual role of Inspector Kemp and the blind Hermit in Act II. Cory English is a comedic genius in the Marty Feldman role of Igor, with the roving hump on his back, and Joanna Glushak is brilliant in the Cloris Leachman role of Frau Blucher (cue horses whinnying). Unfortunately Anne Horak is merely adequate as Inga, the role created by Teri Garr in the film. The talented Beth Curry, as Elizabeth, unfortunately seems to be trying to imitate Megan Mullally, the actress who played the role on Broadway, instead of putting her own mark on the part. While this show is entertaining and has much to offer, as a follow-up to Mel Brooks's previous hit musical, this just isn't a monster hit.