Musical Young Frankenstein does Mel Brooks classic one better
(L-R) Jamie Torcellini as Igor and Larry Raben as Dr. Frederick
August 28, 2013I remember like it was yesterday when I saw Mel Brooks's classic 1974 comedy Young Frankenstein hit the big screen. It was just a couple of years since I had seen his inimitable Blazing Saddles, which in my opinion is the funniest movie ever made.
Young Frankenstein may not have been the funniest movie ever made, but it was certainly one of the cleverest and visually fun. It was a wonderfully inventive send-up of the classic 1930s film. Gene Wilder as the slightly cuckoo doctor, and an inspired cast that included Brooks's favorite actors, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn and Terry Garr, created a memorable film that stood on its own two feet.
All it lacked, it seems, was singing. Several years ago Brooks decided, as he had with The Producers, to add music to something that was very nearly perfect without it. And, unlike, say, Spielberg, who when he tampers with his masterpieces shatters their magic, when Brooks fiddles with one of his classics, he makes a new classic.
Moonlight Stage Productions, in its 33rd summer season, has brought the musical Young Frankenstein to life. Just like Frederick Frankenstein ("that's Fronkensteen!" he insists, so as not to be confused with his dotty grandfather, Victor) will eventually bring his monster to life.
Frankenstein is played by Larry Raben, who in his curly wig is a dead ringer for Wilder in the movie, which is backed up by the fact that he played the same role Wilder played in the musical version of The Producers.
The musical, set in 1934, has added some scenes and put them to music, such as Frankenstein lecturing his medical students in New York City and singing that his favorite body part is "The Brain."
Contacted that his grandfather has died in Transylvania and that he will lose the family estate if he doesn't return to the old country, Frankenstein reluctantly boards a steamer for Europe, while his tease fiancé Elizabeth, played by Jessica Bernard, tells him "Please don't touch me," as she sends him off.
He arrives to be met by Igor, a hunchback whose hump mysteriously migrates from right to left. Igor, played by Jamie Torcellini takes the good doctor on a hay ride to his new castle, accompanied by the sexy peasant girl Inga, played by Noelle Marion and the two his it off right away.
After meeting the mysterious Frau Blucher (Tracy Lore), whose very name makes horses whinny in terror, Frankenstein soon finds himself drawn into the family business: e.g. making a monster out of body parts.
The monster is played by Randall Hickman, who gets to steal just about every scene that he's in.
If you've seen the movie you'll find yourself enjoying how the musical riffs on familiar scenes with the added element of cleverly written songs and as many double and triple entendres as the play can hold.
Young Frankenstein is one of the funniest musicals you will ever see, put on by one of the finest theater groups in San Diego. Go out and see it and laugh your wig off. It runs until Sept. 7.
For ticket information visit moonlightstage.com or phone 760-724-2110.