The image of a hulking green monster, decked out in top hat and tails, clomping and yowling to “Puttin’ on the Ritz”? Still hilarious.
When the creature in the “Young Frankenstein” stage musical first caterwauled those lyrics at the Garde Arts Center Saturday, you could hear audience members giggling happily.
Mel Brooks couldn’t possibly have dreamed up anything in his feverish little mind to rival that singularly genius scene, as he was turning his 1974 film into a 2007 musical. But what he did bring was his indelibly broad, bawdy humor.
When it came to the tunes — Brooks wrote both the music and lyrics, thank you very much — he went for Broadway patische. While the songs were lively and upbeat, they started to sound a bit too similar. Brooks the composer did have some distinctive moments, though, toying with a Weill parody for Frau Blucher’s “He Vas My BoyFriend” and tossing in some yodeling for Inga’s “Roll in the Hay.”
Re-animating, so to speak, “Young Frankenstein” was a NETworks tour cast that provided energetic comedy and robust singing voices. They put their own stamps on roles made famous by the actors in the movie, deciding against imitation.
A.J. Holmes, with a crop of crazed hair, slipped into the keyed-up mind of mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein. He found fine comic foils in Elizabeth Pawloski, a perfect ingenue as Inga; Christopher Timson, a likable Igor; and Lexie Dorsett, an operatically self-absorbed fiancée.
Pat Sibley was entertainingly grave and intimidating as Frau Blucher, whose name alone sent horses into fearful whinnies — shtick that was still funny, even when everyone knew it was coming.
At the matinee, understudy Edward Carignan stepped into the big, thudding shoes of The Monster. He did a bang-up job, although he was about the same height as the other actors — and I have to say, I kind of want a Monster who towers over everyone else.
Even “Ritz” aside, the dance numbers showed some sass, thanks to Susan Stroman’s choreography — imagine scientists in lab coats leaping and pirouetting.
A favorite moment: During the curtain call, Britt Hancock came out dressed as Inspector Kemp and then pulled down a wig and tugged off one ripaway costume to reveal another underneath, proving that he — what! — also had played the blind hermit.
It was a cool bit of theatricality.