By Gary Davis
Leave it to Lyric Arts Main Stage, in the heart of the Halloween Capital of the World, to produce this year’s best Halloween destination, in the form of Young Frankenstein, the musical.
I am not a big fan of turning popular movies into stage musicals but I have to admit this one hits the mark. The score is very catchy and complements the libretto, rather than re-stating it, which sometimes happens in adapted musicals. I had not heard the score before attending and found Igor and the Doctor’s duet “Together Again for the First Time” hilarious. Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancée, Elizabeth, scores a homerun with her “Please Don’t Touch Me”, which includes one of the more interesting dance sequences I have seen in some time.
Director Matt McNabb and his production crew have turned loose a cast of 18 skilled and energetic performers that rock the house from the opening number to the final curtain call.
For fans of the 1974 hit movie, it’s all there: the puns, the risqué humor, the fabulous character parts. Add to that a raucous score, a tight ensemble, wonderful choreography, an imposing but versatile set and over 300 light and sound cues and you have a mahvelous evening at the theatre.
All I can say is Wow! For one, Puttin’ on the Ritz is about 1,000 times better than in the movie. Watching the Monster (Tom Georger) dancing in 4 inch platform boots with the rest of the cast tapping around him is one of the highlights of the evening. If you like good, old-fashioned production tap numbers, you don’t want to miss this.
I hate singling out performances when a cast is so uniformly excellent, but here we go. The leads in this show have done an excellent job of reminding us of the folks in the movie while still making these characters their own. The trio of of Dr. Frankenstein (Kyler Chase), Inga (Nykeigh Larson), and Igor (Brendan Veerman) work together like a Swiss timepiece.
Kudos as well to Kate Beahen for her understated Frau Blucher (whinnee) and her excellent comedic timing. Also to Brad Bone for his over the top blind Hermit and Nick Menzuber in the dual roles of Victor Von Frankenstein and Inspector Kemp.
This show was extremely challenging from a technical perspective and I want to recognize a few of them here. Brian Proball’s set design, with its imposing Castle Frankenstein, sets the mood from the minute you walk in the door. Choreographer Ann Marie Omeish met the challenge of several full ensemble dances in varying styles, culminated by the Puttin’ on the Ritz tap extravaganza. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Jim Eischen (lights) and Jeff Geisler (sound) have teamed up to provide a seamless technical framework for the show. Finally, Samantha Fromm Haddow and her crew: thank you for the excellent costume plot.
Young Frankenstein plays through November 2.
Gary Davis is a local actor/director who is a big fan of theater.