King’s Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 17 November
It’s a rule of thumb that celebrities cast in touring musicals to pull in floating punters will require some degree of propping up by the singing/dancing pros in the company. Certainly, comedian and erstwhile King of the Jungle Joe Pasquale is the weakest link in this touring production of Mel Brooks’ comic musical, his inoffensive turn as hole-in-corner accountant Leo Bloom easily cast into the shadows by Cory English’s high octane performance as rakish impresario and romancer of rich elderly ladies, Max Bialystock.
Indeed, English’s verbal dexterity, clowning skills and effortless musical talents, as well as an enjoyable supporting turn from Allan Stewart as camp-as-Christmas director Roger de Bris, go some way towards compensating for the weaknesses in the book. In sweetening his own 1968 film for the Broadway stage, Brooks succeeded in replacing some of his more outrageous inventions with some fairly unmemorable songs and occasional moments of soggy sentiment.
That said, much of the broad humour and larger than life characterisation of Brooks’ original has made it into the stage incarnation, and this, married to some irresistible sight gags and slickly choreographed set pieces (most memorably the hilarious Springtime for Hitler sequence) makes for a largely entertaining production.