Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein,” released in 1974, is generally agreed to be one of the comedy classics of all time (it’s number 13 on the AFI top 100 comedy list.)
Most people have seen it, and most people remember it fondly (and can quote more than a few of the lines.) This, I’m sure, might make people nervous, going into a musical based on such a beloved movie; can it measure up?
Luckily, Brooks wrote the music and lyrics, and co-wrote the book, and the answer is yes, it can (and does) measure up – and the production currently running at Schenectady Light Opera Company more than does it justice.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Matthew Dembling) is informed that his grandfather, the great Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein (Chuck Conroy), has passed away, and he has to go to Transylvania to take care of his estate, or lose it to the tax collector.
He travels there with no intention to go into the well-known family business, but through some fate and some science, ends up creating a monster of his own, which causes a chain reaction of events that gets sillier and sillier as it goes.
Dembling is solid in his role as Frederick, which is important; the show revolves around him. He has excellent comedic timing and a strong voice.
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin Street, Schenectady
WHEN: Through May 18
HOW MUCH: $18-$28
MORE INFO: 1-877-350-7378, http://www.sloctheater.org/
The entire group of main characters, actually, was cast well and is very strong. Jordan Fyvie, as Inga, Frederick’s bouncy young lab assistant, was equal parts cute and lusty, with a beautiful voice; Melissa Putterman-Hoffman, as Frau Blucher, was hilarious (her comedic timing stands out time and again as impeccable); Molly McGrath, as Elizabeth Benning, Frederick’s fiancée, was over-the-top campy without crossing the line into annoying (and it’s always a treat to hear McGrath sing); and Gary Hoffman, as Igor, was hysterical; he’s given most of the snarky lines and best bits, and he handled them with ease.
Marc Christopher, as the Monster, has a tough job – he spends most of the show grunting incoherently and running from place to place – yet he managed to crack the audience up repeatedly with his facial expressions and physicality.
The choreography was, as a whole, solid, with only a few cluttered moments (possibly due to just too many people being on the stage, a hazard run with a supporting cast this large) and the set was functional, with quick, efficient set changes. The ensemble did tend to mug a bit too much in the crowd scenes, which was distracting, but if that’s the only complaint with a show, it’s minor enough to ignore.
Excellent, strong production to end a season with; SLOC is to be commended with this one. It’s a technically complex piece, and director Michael Gatzendorfer handles it well.