Young Frankenstein: The Musical
There have been plenty of comedies throughout the years that end up becoming instant classics. Comedies you can watch over and over that always deliver the laughs. Mel Brooks’ "Young Frankenstein" definitely belongs on the list of timeless funnies. Well, if you’re anything like me, the addition of song and dance to just about anything makes it all the more engaging; and this was definitely the case with the live production of "Young Frankenstein: The Musical."
Like the film, the story follows Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (or Fronkensteen as he insists), a young scientist who has spent the majority of his adult life running from his grandfather’s legacy and reputation. Upon his grandfather’s death, Fredrick inherits his castle and assets and soon finds himself in Transylvania. With the help of a lovable hunchback, Igor (pronounced eye-gor) and a beautiful lab assistant, Inga, he soon finds himself deeply immersed in his grandfather’s work -- the reanimation of dead tissue.
Picking up where he left off, Dr. Frankenstein succeeds in creating a "monster," but unfortunately things from there do not go as planned. A parody of Mary Shelly’s "Frankenstein," the film and show stay true to the original macabre material, with plenty of laughs and catchy music along the way.
Playing at the Hudson "Backstage" Theatre this past weekend, "Young Frankenstein The Musical" was monstrously delightful. From the talented and passionate actors to the stunning set, this show was nothing short of mesmerizing. Written by Mel Brooks, with music and lyrics by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, "Young Frankenstein The Musical" has everything a theater director wants in a musical script; and Hudson Theatre director Nancy Horak did a fantastic job of bringing the show to life.
It also did not hurt to have great actors to fill the parts. Justin Haase took on the lead, playing Dr. Frankenstein with a passionate fervor that screamed comedic genius. I found myself enchanted by his character as he dove deeper and deeper into the mind of a true mad scientist.
Jolie Vanier as Inga was just delightful, making her offer of a "roll in ze hay" simply impossible to resist. Deidra Mohr played Frau Blucher, the castle’s unsightly housekeeper. While her character’s revolting looks are enough to make horses rear up in fright, Ms. Mohr’s performance is magical.
Roger Lott did a fine job of portraying the Monster; making the most of the abnormal brain he was given. Looming high above his cast members, he made his massive presence on stage just the right combination of comedy and menace.
Igor was portrayed by Nicolas Henry, a newbie at the Hudson Theatre, and perhaps one of the cutest and smallest actors I have ever seen. He had very large shoes to fill taking on this role, and was very effective in doing so. With an equally impressive ensemble cast playing various parts throughout, I was captivated time and time again.
The actor who left the greatest impression was Adrianna Eldridge, who played Dr. Frankenstein’s over-the-top socialite, fiancée Elizabeth. If her exquisite singing voice, brilliant line delivery, or sheer way of lighting up the stage were not enough, let’s add in the fact that she is only thirteen years old. This bright, young girl projected so much professional talent and star quality I’m sure we will be seeing her on Broadway in no time. Ms. Eldridge was truly the star of the show.
The set and art design was some of the most impressive work I have seen at a small production. Artist Heli Sterner did a superb job of painting backdrops for the audience that transported us straight to Transylvania. From the exterior of the Doctor’s castle to the inside of his laboratory, Sterner captured the beautiful gothic spirit of the time period and landscape, elevating it with mastery and beauty.
Attending the closing show, I was privy to Ms. Horak’s emotional farewell to her cast members. The mutual respect and love between the director and her troupe shone through, not only touching the hearts of the audience, but making the performance that much more special and memorable.
"Young Frankenstein The Musical" is a shining example of community theatre that is doing it right. A small group took on a huge project with this musical, but with devotion, passion and raw talent they created a masterpiece...or should I say "monster-piece."