Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN: It's ALIVE at Walnut Street Theatre

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN: It's ALIVE at Walnut Street Theatre
Photo by Mark Garvin

When you see Halloween decorations lining the aisles of every store, you may groan -- autumn has hardly begun!

But at the Walnut Street Theatre, spooky season is in full swing, and you won't be sorry for it. Their production of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein -- a United States premiere of the new and improved version that debuted in the U.K. -- is delightful to watch and proves Walnut Street Theatre's continued dedication to producing top-notch entertainment.

Young Frankenstein is exactly what the title suggests -- Dr. Frankenstein of the famous Mary Shelley novel has died. His grandson, who insists he is not like his grandfather, whose monsters terrorized the city of Transylvania, returns to the mansion where it all went down.

Robert Kovach artfully maneuvered designing a set that could serve many scene changes and transfer seamlessly between the village streets of Transylvania, Frankenstein's estate and a glittering vaudeville stage. He/she was able to innovate in America's oldest theatre that typically doesn't support more modern set design. Young Frankenstein featured flying lab beds, layers of backdrops and set pieces that seemed to magically move on automated tracks across the stage -- but the Walnut does not have tracked stages. The design was whimsical and exciting, much like the musical itself.

At times, the Walnut is guilty of casting the same actors over and over again, to the point where it can seem familiarity wins out over fitting a role. However, Walnut Street Theatre perfectly meshed new and old faces in Young Frankenstein. Younger actors like Luke Bradt (Igor) was a a scene stealer who could hold his own. Bradt captured the audience in one slapstick scene in which he steps on a brain -- one that almost definitely earned him a standing ovation at the curtain call.

Philly-favorite Ben Dibble starred as Dr. Frankenstein. Although his performance was well-executed, I expected more from him. His Frankenstein was basic and one-dimensional. His triple-threat talent that makes him such a hot commodity in the city did not go unnoticed, but because he is so well known, I believe he has to work twice as hard to wow. However, Walnut regulars like Mary Martello (Frau Blucher) and veteran ensemble members found something new to bring to the lab table in Young Frankenstein.

Though Mel Brooks' extremely specific humor is not for everyone, I wholly recommend Walnut Street Theatre's Young Frankenstein. This season opener's production value may be one of the theater's best and sets a high bar for the rest of the year.

Walnut Street Theatre's Young Frankenstein runs through Oct. 20, and tickets can be purchased HERE.

Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid theatergoer in Philadelphia? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.


Bucks County Playhouse Institute Hosts Virtual Educators Workshop Photo
Playhouse Institute, an educational arm of the non-profit Bucks County Playhouse, announces it will host its annual conference virtually May 16-17, 2023. The education conference that began as an in-person event at the Playhouse in 2018, has expanded its reach by moving the forum online giving an opportunity for educators around the globe to join in the discussion. Tuition for the Spring Conference “Permission to Fail” is $300.

BRU Craft and Wurst Presents 10th Anniversary Block Party To Celebrate A Decade In Center  Photo
Craft Concepts Group and Owner Teddy Sourias celebrate a decade of their first big signature flagship restaurant and bar. CCG presents the BRU Craft & Wurst 10th Anniversary Block Party on Sunday, April 2, 2023, from 11:00am to 8:00pm.

Bucks County Playhouse Youth Company To Remount Original Musical ALIEN8 Photo
Bucks County Playhouse Youth Company will remount their original production Alien8 this summer!

10+ Spots for Easter in Philadelphia, Suburbs and South Jersey Photo
From Easter Egg Hunts ot Easter Bunny Spottings, to Easter Sunday Brunch tro Easter Cocktails, Philadelphia, Suburb and Shore restaurants present many options.

From This Author - Alyssa Biederman

Alyssa Biederman is a senior journalism and political science major at Temple University with a passion for theater. Since leaving her theater career as an actress and singer behind after ente... (read more about this author)