BWW Reviews: A Bit Too YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at SMT Still Sparks With Life
I always question the wisdom of these smaller theaters working with almost no budgets putting up these big flashy Broadway shows. They're not going to have the funds for lavish sets and racks of fancy costumes. But even without all that Seattle Musical Theatre managed to take Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" and create an evening of naughty fun with some truly solid performances.
Based on the 1974 comedy classic we find that the Frankenstein name has now dwindled down to one lone heir who insists his name is not pronounced the way we think it is (it's pronounced Fronkensteen). Frederick Frankenstein (Jeremy Adams) takes his work in neuroscience seriously and swears he has nothing to do with his grandfather's ghoulish work. But when the estate in Transylvania is willed to him he must leave his debutant fiancé Elizabeth (Megan Tyrrell) and his career in New York and travel to a land that loathes and fears his namesake. There he meets Igor (it's pronounced Eye-gor, played by Noah Duffy) whose grandfather used to work for Frederick's grandfather, the buxom Inga (Brenna Wagner) who wants to be his new lab assistant and the mysterious Frau Blucher (insert horse whinny here, played by Ellen Dessler). And these three, along with a late night spectral ancestor dance number, convince Frederick to once again try to bring life from death, with hilarious results.
So maybe the sets and costumes aren't as grand as Broadway but they make them work. And there are even a few light gimmicks in the lab. There's a couple of Jacob's ladders, some nasty looking switches and even one thing that looked remarkably like the flux capacitor from "Back to the Future". But it's the exuberance and comic timing that director Samuel Jarius Pettit has instilled into the show that make you overlook the lack of a budget and go with it. He and choreographer Debbie Pierce have crafted a crazy romp of a show that rarely falls flat.
True, the cast seems to be a little on the young side to be playing these parts but they still sell it and there are a few really outstanding performances. Adams brings some fantastic pipes to the role as well as some wonderful comedic chops and even manages to nail the difficult insane patter in his opening number. Wagner completely inhabits the busty bombshell and runs with it with glee. Tyrell gives a great brash and belty Elizabeth and does justice to her eleven o'clock number, "Deep Love". And Dessler looks to be having too much fun with the oversexed Blucher. But it was Duffy who completely blew me away on that stage and made it hard to watch anyone else. Facially, physically, vocally, he really seemed to be the love child of Marty Feldman and a Broadway hoofer. He was comedy gold and yet still sang and danced with the best of them.
With a quite willing and able ensemble and orchestra, this valiant effort of a show manages some fantastic moments even without all the bells and whistles of Broadway. So with my three letter rating system, I give "Young Frankenstein" a MEH+.
"Young Frankenstein" from Seattle Musical Theatre performs through April 13th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.seattlemusicaltheatre.org.