Alexander Berlage blew audiences (and critics) away with the first two musicals he directed at the Hayes Theatre Co: Cry-Babyin 2018 and American Psychoin 2019.

Both were based on cult films and had been met with a decidedly mixed response when they premiered in the US. Berlage came at them afresh and worked wonders with inspired, perfectly pitched productions. The candy-striped Cry-Babywas deliciously funny, kooky, and uplifting as it celebrated being different, while American Psychofound just the right vein of slick, dark satire to electrify the crowds that flocked to see it.

So, there was much anticipation when the Hayes announced that Berlage would return in 2020 to direct Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, yet another musical based on a cult film that had divided critics when it opened on Broadway in 2007. (A revised version opened in the West End in 2017 to mixed but generally more positive reviews.)

Matthew Backer and cast in Young Frankenstein. Photograph © Daniel Boud

Berlage and his creative team met for a weekend in March 2020 to begin early discussions for their Hayes production,...