BWW Reviews: Vintage Theatre Has a Monstrous, Hilarious Hit with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, The Musical!
Vintage Theatre kicks off the 2014 season with Mel Brook's hysterical musical YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN playing now through February 2nd. In the town of Transylvania Heights, in the year 1934, the villagers celebrate the funeral procession of the mad scientist, Dr. Victor von Frankenstein. Meanwhile, in New York, Frederick Frankenstein is ashamed to be a Frankenstein, insisting his name be pronounced 'Fronkensteen' and that he is not a madman but, rather, a scientist. After learning that he has inherited his grandfather's castle in Transylvania, he is forced to resolve the issue of the property. Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan bring us such memorable tunes as "The Transylvania Mania," "He Vas My Boyfriend" and "Puttin' On The Ritz."
Let's face it, a show can contain humor, but the side-splitting comedy is all in the timing and that's exactly what these talented actors demonstrated in this hilarious production of Young Frankenstein. With Deb Flomberg at the helm, this cast hit every comedic mark, every musical note, and every naughty sexual suggestion that make this genius work by Mel Brooks so great and the ultimate cult classic. From the very start with the acapella barbershop announcements (that I wish would have been performed live rather than recorded) to the first big energetic and humorous musical number (Happiest Town in Town), the audience knew that they were in for a good time. It was also the perfect casting of the lead roles that truly made this show great and the fact that they made each of their characters quirky, unique and hilarious. If I had one critique, it would be that when I go to a musical, I like to have a listing of the musical numbers in my program. Not only do I like to follow along (and mark those outstanding songs, but this also helps to alleviate antsy audience members in an elongated first act. There are way too many memorable moments to name, so I will just insist that you witness this comedic gem for yourself! Some of the outstanding musical numbers include - The Happiest Town in Town, Please Don't Touch Me, Together Again (for the First Time), Roll in the Hay, He Vas My Boyfriend, Transylvania Mania, He's Loose, Listen to Your Heart, Surprise, Man About Town, Puttin' on the Ritz, and Deep Love.
First I have to give a standing ovation to the amazing ensemble who, with so many big musical numbers not only worked hard but worked it, with high energy, melodramatic acting, great dancing, wonderful singing and high spirits! Seth Maisel was superb as Frederick Frankenstein bringing the perfect blend of dry humor, lovable charm and a touch of insanity to his memorable and dynamic role. I loved his renditions of Together Again with Igor (that brought down the house), Man About Town and Frederick's Soliloquy. Speaking of Igor, Mark Shonsey was an absolute cut-up in the quirky role and completely stole the show with his cutting sarcasm, goofy demeanor and dedication to his amusing walk. He brought the comedy out in Together Again and Transylvania Mania; and the audience just adored him. I was thoroughly impressed by newcomer Kristi Siedow-Thompson in the role of Dr. Frankenstein's assistant, Inga. Her fierce singing voice grabbed my attention with her very first note and her playful character and excellent yodeling kept me transfixed till the very end. I adored her interpretations of Roll in the Hay and Listen to Your Heart. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her and look forward to seeing her in other productions to come. Shahara Ostrand's extraordinary talent never ceases to amaze and entertain me as she transitioned from drama (with her recent haunting performance in CARRIE, The Musical) into a comedic role with ease, style, and grace. She made the role of Frankenstein's fiancee, Elizabeth her own and brought out every seductive suggestion and comedic moment in Please Don't Touch Me, Surprise! and Deep Love. Mike Keinker towered over everyone as the Monster and it was his comical use of his non-verbal mannerisms that was so much fun to watch. Puttin on the Ritz was his big number (pun intended) and his boyish charm made this show-stopping number great! I hate to say it, but I have seen other productions that Barbara Porecca has acted in and have not been impressed, but her humorous and heart-warming take as Frau Blucher captured my heart and completely changed my mind on her fine talent. She brought a smile to everyone's face with her delightful and naughty number, He Vas My Boyfriend and her dry humor made this role oh so memorable. From the moment that Patrick Brownson came onstage as Hans Kemp, I was on the floor, doubled over in laughter. It was his impeccable comedic choices with the character's flaws that made his performance priceless!
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