Pictured: Joell Ramsdell and Kipp Simmons. Photo by Sarah Cotur.
By Marissa Carter
Victor Frankenstein is dead, and the villagers couldn’t be happier about it. Until they learn that he has a single heir – Frederick Frankenstein. Surely there is nothing to worry about, though. What are the chances that Frederick will leave a successful career in the city to join the family business of reanimating the dead in Transylvania? When Mel Brooks is in charge, the chances are pretty high.
The simple and predictable plot of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is part of what makes this show so successful, first as a movie, and now as a live stage musical. Unlike Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this story does not carry political or societal undertones. It is a playful romp that is intended to entertain (and possibly shock or offend) theater patrons.
This production is fun to watch, partially because it features a lot of eye candy in the form of stonework curtains, secret passages, elaborate staircases, and perfectly timed lighting effects. Colored LED lights set into the stonework framing accent the odd angles and serve to accentuate each scene while adding depth to the stage. The scene changes are fast and fluid, yet each new set feels very different, and together they create a very believable castle and town.
There is more to enjoy than the set, however, since the show is full of silly characters that are excellently brought to life by a talented cast. Annette Cook blew me away with her portrayal of Frau Blucher – I could listen to her sing all day. Scott Fagen is amazing as The Monster. He starts out loveable and innocently empty-headed, then pulls off a total character change when he finally gets to reveal his gorgeous vocals. Elizabeth (Stasha Case), Inga (Ashton Botts), and Igor (Kipp Simmons) are all hilarious, and Frederick (Joell Ramsdell) is exactly the type of idiot genius he needs to be for the story to work. Through the entire production, it is obvious this cast has as much fun performing as the audience has watching.
The Lewis & Shirley White Theatre’s presentation of Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is full of raunchy humor, not so subtle innuendo, and spectacular lighting. It is a great show to catch when you are looking for an evening of pure fun.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN runs through November 19th. For more information visit thejkc.org.