|'Young Frankenstein' Alive With Laughter|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2012 06:23|
In 1931, British actor Colin Clive uttered the immortal words “It’s Alive” and brought to life one of the world’s best-known monsters in the now-classic horror film “Frankenstein.”
Actually, as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, Clive uttered those words eight times —and although he was the first, he certainly has not been the last.
The movie was based on the 1818 book by Mary Shelley. It brought fame and a life-long association, wanted or not, to actor Boris Karloff, who created The Monster (which was NOT named Frankenstein).
In the decades since, countless “sequels” and “re-imagined” versions of the original have been filmed, with probably the best known being “Young Frankenstein,” by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, which put a wildly comic face on the story and its characters.
Never one to let sleeping monsters lie, Brooks wrote music and lyrics and teamed with Thomas Meehan on the book to turn the 1974 movie into a theatrical musical. It came to Broadway in 2007 and hit the road in 2009.
Last night ”The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” (its official title) came to Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo where it will be “alive” for one more performance at 7:30 p.m. this evening.
Being a fan of the Brooks movie (but not of “The Producers,” another Brooks film which he segued into a theatrical musical), I went with few expectations. I was much more than pleasantly surprised!
This “Young Frankenstein,” although obviously scaled down production-wise from the New York run, is blessed with a super-talented cast that I would bet is every bit as good as the original performers, and most are up there with the movie players.
Heading the gleefully ghoulish group in a beautifully timed performance is A.J. Holmes as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, (“It is Fronken-steen!!”) grandson of the original monster-maker. Traveling to Transylvania on the death of his grandfather, he leaves behind his untouchable society fiancé Elizabeth (Lexie Dorsett) but finds a strange servant Igor (“That’s Eye-gor”) (Christopher Timson) waiting — at Track 29 in the Transylvania Station —Right! These are the jokes and they come fast and furiously from the wild-haired doctor and the hump-shifting Igor.
Add Inga (Elizabeth Pawloski), a well-endowed medical assistant eager to help the doctor in any way possible, and (cue the horses!) Frau Blucher (Pat Sibley), the housekeeper and girlfriend of the late Victor Frankenstein, and despite Frederick’s protests, the creation of The Monster (Rory Donovan) is inevitable. And he is well worth waiting for, “A.B. Normal” brain, green skin, towering shoes and all.
Of course, the villagers are still rioting, led by Inspector Kemp (Britt Hancock who also plays the blind monk visited by The Monster), whose snappy salute is as mechanical as his determination to rid the town of Frankensteins.
The Brooks score is fast-paced (Holmes’ first song “The Brain” is a true tongue-twister which he spits out with aplomb) and also has some lovely melodies. OK, so the most familiar is by Irving Berlin, but this musical would be sorely lacking if the doctor and The Monster and, indeed, the entire company, did not stop the show with a blisteringly extended tap to “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”
Dorsett has a killer voice (and shape to match). Her rendition of “Don’t Touch Me” is sharply hilarious as is her surrender to “Deep Love.”. Pawloski is equally talented as a singer and dancer. From her introductory “Roll in The Hay” to her slow split on the gurney while telling Frankenstein to “Listen to Your Heart,” she is consistently excellent.
The entire young company consistently delivers, both vocally and in the many ensemble dance numbers for which James Gray recreated the original choreography of Tony Award winner Susan Stroman.
Be aware: There are many many many thunder crashes and lightening flashes throughout “Young Frankenstein” but what would a monster musical be without them.
Tickets are still available for this evening’s performance. I would highly recommend this as a great way to check out the genius of Mel Brooks as interpreted by a really brilliant cast.
And laughing is the best way to start the day — even if it happens at night.
“YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN” plays at 7:30 p.m. today in Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University off Stadium Drive in Kalamazoo. For tickets, call (269) 387-2300 or (800) 228-9858 or visit www.millerauditorium.com. Prices range from $25 to $55.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 02:06|