YOUNG FRANKENSTEINMusic and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Original Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman
Granbury Theatre Company
Director –Ricky Pope
Music Director —Greg Doss
Co-Choreographers —Abi Abel and Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis
Scenic Designer—Kerri Pavelick
Lighting Designer—Kalani Morrissette
Sound Designer – Haden Capps
Costume Team—Drenda Lewis
CAST (at reviewed performance)
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein—Matt Beutner
The Monster—Tim Herndon
Elizabeth Benning—Mia Cree Washington
Frau Blucher—Bentleigh Nesbit
Inspector Kemp—Pam Pendleton
The Hermit—Micky Shearon
Dr. Victor von Frankenstein—Micky Shearon
Ensemble: Maddie Almond, Tasia Jewel, Ethan Leake, Britton Melton, Faith Melton, Toby Q., Jarrett Seif, Whitney Shearon, Tori Townsend
Reviewed Performance: 10/21/2018
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Based on the 1974 motion picture, Young Frankenstein follows the story of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced Fronk-uhn-steen), the grandson of Dr. Victor von Frankenstein as he returns to Transylvania after the passing of his grandfather. Frederick returns to distance himself from the family name, and with the intentions to make great scientific discoveries. As he stumbles upon his grandfather’s medical library, secret laboratory, and a book humorously and aptly titled “How I Did It,” Frederick begins to concoct an experiment similar to his grandfathers of reanimating the life of a corpse with a new brain.
The film (which paid the appropriate homage to the black and white 1930’s horror films) was truly a comic masterpiece starring the talents of Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr. Not only was the writing the perfect formula of spoof, but, the innuendos and the double entendre that was woven throughout the film left audiences rolling-making it one of Brooks’ most welI known gems of his career. On a side note, I was impressed to discover that the original props from the original 1931 Frankenstein (starring Boris Karloff), had been so well-preserved, that they were used in Young Frankenstein, to create ambiance, and to pay tribute to the horror films of the 1930’s. I love trivia…don’t you?
Director Ricky Pope brought together a large ensemble cast of actors who worked well together, and successfully created a fantastic theatrical representation of the film. From the moment the curtain went up, I was immediately pulled into the world of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (don’t forget-that’s Fronk-uhn-steen). The overall concept of the production paid the appropriate amount of tribute to the films that started the horror-flick movement in early Hollywood, and also brought Gothic musical comedy to stage with humor, wit, and a series of bad jokes and puns in a way that only Mel Brooks could create. Set Designer Kerri Pavelick successfully transformed the proscenium stage into the multiple locations in the story. From the magic of a hidden passageway to the intricately designed and detailed laboratory of Dr. Frankenstein, I was immediately taken to the time and place of the story-which in this case was Transylvania in 1934. The sets were exactly what I would expect from a throw-back horror film-an abundance of the palate of gray-which was a nice foil to the colorful costumes, and the colorful and zany characters on stage. Each location was given a great attention to detail. From the textured walls, and the consistently changing location, scenes moved seamlessly from one location to the next with little hesitation. This was a huge undertaking for Ms. Pavelick, and it is evident that a great deal of time and care was given to her designs.
I was absolutely awe-struck by the fantastic choreography by Abi Abel and Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis. Similar to the musical energy and comedy in each number, the choreography was impressive to watch. I was amazed at the amount of choreography that Tim Herndon (The Monster) was able to pull-off. Not only is The Monster a huge character in height, but, he was given about four inch high platform boots to move in as well. Choreography was certainly not an after-thought in this production, and provided just as many moments of laughter as the story and the crazy characters.
Costumes were designed by Drenda Lewis. In the same style as the scenic designs, Ms. Lewis brought color, texture, and detail to the production with her wardrobe. The costumes matched the entire concept of the production. It was impressive to see how the wardrobe was successfully able to make more of a caricature out of these characters. Matching the originality of the costumes was the Make-Up design. Katrina Sellens brought great talent to the characters of Igor, Frau Blucher, and of course, The Monster. The make-up was everything that I would expect from the original Frankenstein film, while making it more dramatic and gothic for the stage.
Matt Beutner was phenomenal in the role of Frederick Frankenstein. Mr. Beutner delivered a spot on, and enthusiastic performance full of energy, intensity and humor. Not only did Mr. Beutner deliver with an incredible singing voice, but, he also delivered with his sense of comic timing, humorous facial expressions, and chemistry with his fellow cast members.
Bentleigh Nesbit was fantastic in the role of sinister housekeeper Frau Blucher. I have had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Nesbit before several times on stage, but, I must say that this performance has become one of my favorites. Ms. Nesbit was very realistic, and gave Frau Blucher animated facial expressions, while incorporating fantastic exaggeration to the role.
Another standout was Colton Lively in the role of Frankenstein’s assistant, Igor (eye-gor, of course). Not only did Mr. Lively deliver a comical performance, he portrayed a very believable and spot-on performance, similar to the performance that Marty Feldman gave in the film. It is apparent to me that Mr. Lively studied the performance of Mr. Feldman, and paid homage to his performance, while also putting his own creativity into the role. From the voice, to the mannerisms and characterization, Mr. Lively had me laughing from the beginning of the production to the end. He was very energetic on stage, and his enthusiasm was constant throughout the production. Bravo on a fantastic performance!
Portraying the role of Inga was Meg Maley. Similar to the character of Ulla in The Producers, Inga is the stereotypical blonde character, this time, hailing from Germany. Ms. Maley delivered the role of Inga with confidence, comic timing, and a realistic dialect. She lit up the stage with her facial expressions, and her enthusiasm. One of the best moments for Ms. Maley was her attempt to use yodeling as foreplay, and the dead-pan friskiness of her musical number, “Roll in the Hay.”
However, I felt that Tim Herndon (in the role of The Monster) and Mia Cree Washington (in the role of Elizabeth Benning) became the two of the ensemble that had the most comic relief throughout the production. While only on stage for a short time, both (Mr. Herndon and Ms. Washington) were incredibly enjoyable to watch, and left me laughing so hard that my sides were hurting. As an audience member, that is a most gratifying feeling as you leave the theater. Their timing was spot-on, and their chemistry with each other was phenomenal. “Deep Love” was one of the best moments of the entire show.
If I am pressed to find one element of this production that came up short was the clarity of the role of Inspector Kemp (portrayed by Pam Pendleton). It was difficult for me to recall this character in the original film (I actually had to go back and watch it again after the production to jog my memory). Ms. Pendleton was difficult to understand (her accent would sometimes float in and out), and the comprehensibility of her character was often lost (especially in scenes with Frederick, Frau Blucher, and The Monster).
This production of Young Frankenstein is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for a hilarious and enjoyable experience at the theatre. If you are expecting an afternoon or evening of laughter, look no further. This production delivers the humor, puns, and innuendo that only Mel Brooks can craft. I will caution you, however, due to language, sight gags, and suggestive material, this production of Young Frankenstein is better left to mature audiences. Introduce the young ones to the film first (more appropriate for younger audiences) and leave the live production to the adults. You will not be disappointed…I guarantee that Young Frankenstein will leave you in “stitches.”
Granbury Theatre Company
Granbury Opera House
133 E. Pearl Street
Granbury, Texas 76048
Plays through Nov. 11.
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $25-$30 depending on seating (Prime: Rows A, B, C, D, Standard or Balcony: Rows CR, E, F, G, H, J, Balcony)
For groups of 10 or more, please call the box office for rates & reservations.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.granburytheatrecompany.org or call: 817-579-0952.