The hard part was inventing the candy-gram. The easy part, it seems, is for Mel Brooks to turn his films into stage musicals. Following The Producers and Young Frankenstein, Brooks is working on his third Broadway musical, this time based on his 1974 film, Blazing Saddles.
Blazing Saddles was a spoof of classic Hollywood Westerns, telling the tale of a a corrupt political boss, State Attorney General Hedley Lamarr, who wants to drive out the folks living in Rock Ridge. His modus operandi? Appointing a black sheriff to run the town. Nominated for three Academy Awards, the film is considered by many to be one of the greatest film comedies.
Brooks, who is working on the third song for this musical, spoke to The Canadian Press. Although he had little to say about his hopes for the new musical, he did have a few things to say about Young Frankenstein, or to call it by it’s full title, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein:
If I did (Blazing Saddles), I wouldn’t rush to New York with it because the Times would say: ‘Oh dear, oh dear, another movie converted and transmogrified into a musical…. The Times was only lukewarm to Young Frankenstein, but you know, everybody else was hot – some of the greatest reviews I ever got…. I think if Young Frankenstein had come out first, it would’ve done spectacularly. But following The Producers, you know, that was a rough go for critical praise. But you know what counters that in less than a second? Audiences – live audiences in their response. They are so enthusiastic with such rich laughter and applause.
Brooks seems to be under the impression that Young Frankenstein was a great show! Some responses to his sentiments:
- Another movie “transmogrified” into a musical? I’d say that’s a fair criticism considering the sheer volume of movies being transformed into musicals these days. Actually, that’s not exactly the problem; it’s the sheer number of movies that have been “transmogrified” into mediocre musicals that is.
- Lukewarm reviews is maybe about as much as Young Frankenstein deserves. It is no great musical comedy and despite a couple of stellar reviews, it received more mixed and scathing reviews than positive ones.
- Maybe Young Frankenstein would have done better if it had come before The Producers. I doubt it, though.
- Sure, the show was popular with audiences – after all, it’s still running! Oh, hang on, no it isn’t. It did run for 484 performances though. That would have been a success beyond almost any expectations for a musical comedy in 1930s. Unfortunately, this isn’t the 1930s.
Oh well, I guess we’re all allowed to be subjective about our own creations, just as Brooks is about Young Frankenstein. I only hope that The New Mel Brooks Musical Blazing Saddles is a damn sight better than its predecessor.