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Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts

A fabulously funny production of Mel Brooks' comedy masterpiece in Kissimmee

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts There's no arguing that musicals made from movies can be hit or miss. Broadway has had it's share of them over the last few decades. Sometimes they work well (e.g., HAIRSPRAY, LEGALLY BLONDE, THE PRODUCERS) and sometimes not so much (e.g., CARRIE, KING KONG, DRACULA) but there is something particularly thrilling about seeing a fan favorite brought to life on stage. That is certainly the case for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, the musical version of the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy film of the same name. And lucky for fans (of either the film or the musical) the current production at Osceola Arts in Kissimmee is absolutely fabulous - from the first bolt of lighting to the last thunderclap (and audience clap) - it's a non-stop, rollicking good time.

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN the musical, follows the plot of the film fairly faithfully. It tells the story of young, respected Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Ethan Gresham), pronounced frahnk-un-STEEN, grandson of the famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who is notorious for his exploits bringing the dead to life. The elder Dr. Frankenstein dies and leaves his estate (with castle and infamous laboratory) to his grandson who travels abroad to settle his grandfather's affairs. Leaving behind a fiancée, Elizabeth (Mary Mackin), Frederick heads to Transylvania where he meets a series of zany characters including Igor (Kit Riffel), the grandson of Dr. Victor Frankenstein's henchman, Inga (Jordan Grant) the yodeling lab assistant, and Frau Blucher (Erin Brenna) his grandfather's old housekeeper. It doesn't take long for Frederick to take up his grandfather's old experiments, resulting in the reanimation of his own Monster (Robie Phillips) who, naturally, breaks free and wreaks havok in the village (much to the chagrin of the local constable - Inspector Kemp (Ronnie Gross Jr.). Chaos (and hilarity) ensues, production numbers are performed and by the end of the show, Transylvania will never be the same.

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts In terms of plot, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN doesn't have much, but that is absolutely ok. Everything you need is there in Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan's tight and focused book (which was refined in the West End and is the version being performed here). The music and lyrics (also by Mr. Brooks) are catchy, fun and tuneful and the general aesthetic of the show nails the essence of the original - a send up of old 1930's horror films. The director of Osceola Arts' production, Christopher Robinson, does a fantastic job nailing the look, feel and overall delivery of the show - eliciting pitch perfect performances from his entire cast. The overall performances feel fresh (which can be challenging when tackling a piece that many have strong affinity for) and downright funny.

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts Speaking of funny, the entire cast of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN are each hilarious in their own way and all give stellar performances. The acting and singing chops of the whole group are top notch. Ethan Gresham is wonderfully wacky as the young Dr. Frankenstein, evolving from skeptic to mad scientist right before the audience's eyes. As his fiancée, Elizabeth, Mary Mackin is glamourous and giddy, and as Inga, his lab assistant, Jordan Grant is naïve yet nimble. Kit Riffel delivers strong physical comedy as Igor and Robie Phillips (Monster) and Ronnie Gross Jr. (Inspector Kemp) are equally fit for their roles, especially in the second act where Mr. Phillips gets to shine (and tap dance) and Mr. Gross gets to chew scenery as Inspector Kemp and as the Hermit in a single, but hilarious, scene. For me, many of the laughs from a production of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN depend on whoever inhabits the role of Frau Blucher, and in Osceola Arts' production, Erin Brenna truly shines. I found myself laughing until I hurt anytime Ms. Brenna was on stage - a truly wonderful performance.

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts There is much to love about the creative designs in Osceola Arts' YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Robert F. Wolin's magnificent, rotating set (complete with hidden passages and a fantastically apportioned lab) is a highlight of the evening. Matthew Carl-Allen's costumes elevate the comedy and reinforce the 1930's aesthetic of the setting. Bradley Cronenwett and Waylon Lemasters' Lighting and Sound designs punctuate the action on stage well, and Grant Haas' Music Direction and Indigo Leigh's choreography ensure each musical number is thoroughly entertaining and fun (and well performed).

Overall, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts is one not to miss. It is an extremely well-done, high-quality production of a beloved classic comedy that is sure to make you laugh out loud. Keep in mind that it is Mel Brooks, so it is full of double entendres, sex jokes, inuendo and downright bawdiness so probably not one you bring the young kids to see. But if that sounds to you like great fun, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is sure to please and is the perfect way to start the Halloween season.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, presented by Osceola Arts, runs through October 2nd. Tickets start at only $24, with Senior, students, and group rates available. Performances are at 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 2pm on Sundays with a Saturday matinee on October 1st at 2:00pm. For additional information and to purchase show tickets visit or call 407-846-6257.

All Photos provided by Osceola Arts and feature the cast of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.

From This Author - Joseph Harrison

Joseph Harrison has been involved with the theatre in some form or fashion all his life. He holds a Journalism degree from the University of Georgia, but his true love is the theatre which he has b... (read more about this author)

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