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Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Premiere Playhouse

Review: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Premiere Playhouse

Young Frankenstein runs at the Premiere Playhouse this weekend and next.

The Premiere Playhouse production of Mel Brook's YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN has a talented cast of actors that bring together a mostly delightful evening of theatre. The set design is well executed and shifts from the various locales of the story with ease. The colors and textures of the scenery were nicely painted and crafted to create the creepy castle atmosphere and laboratory.

The principal cast of characters were strong actors and most of them were extraordinary vocalists as well. The ensemble group was a stellar mix of energy and vocal power and really pulled the pace of the production up a notch every time they were on stage. Their characterizations and physical expressions were visually animated and a pleasure to watch unfold.

From the first strains of "Don't Touch Me", it was clear that Alexandria Mathews as the fiance (Elizabeth Benning) character was a vocal powerhouse and had natural comedic timing. She is a very capable and polished performer. It was delightful to have her back later in the production for the transformation to an ultimately willing seductress of the monster.

Barry Longden as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein had a nice command of his character but the vocal substitutions for him in the more operatic songs were confusing and ultimately frustrating due to technical problems for the offstage vocalist, Matt Walicke (incidentally, also the Musical Director of the production). A less confident actor may have been stymied by this, but Mr. Longden persevered and had some nice moments with his portrayal of the Professor turned creator of the monster.

Igor, played by Casey Kustak was a very close approximation to the character as portrayed by Marty Feldman in the film. Which brings me to an observation that might be a moot point. It is very clear in this production that the director and cast watched the film and made decisions to emulate the timing and inflections of comedic elements in the film. Since I personally have watched the film 20 times or more, I recognize the similarities. It might have been more fresh for the production to let these actors find their own character elements.

The characterization of Frau Blucher was a solid performance by Julie Haddock Sauer. Her voice is strong and low and her German accent rang true to the ear. Her eyes and facial expressions could be more broad. Afterall, it's a campy show with bawdy adult humor and the Frau should feel free to use her physical space on stage with greater flair and dramatic flourish. Her "Boyfriend" song is definitely a highlight of the show.

Madison Gerhart, the understudy going on in the role of Inga has a lovely voice, and cuts an adorable figure in her German costume. Her vocal qualities in this part were very good, but she too could have been more broad in her facial expressions in her attempts to seduce the Doctor.

Some of the other standout solo vocalists in this production, were Shawn Shannon II, Nathan Sparks, Paul Ridgeway, and Landon Javers.

I really have to sing the praises of the Ensemble in this production at greater length. The energy and commitment to character in their vocals, and choreography were impressive... idyllic even. It is rare to see this size of a group perform so cohesively and joyously. The energy was always elevated when they had a production number in the show. From the prat falls to Russian bottle dances, and a rousing tap dance, and powerful vocals, this group brought their "A" game to the stage.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN plays this weekend and next at the Premiere Playhouse and is a great start to their artistic season. It's a great way to get in the mood for Halloween this year.

Get your tickets online at

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Sonja Niles has 40 plus years in theatre performance and directing and has been a guest director throughout South Dakota and Montana. Sonja has performed in community theatres in Aberdeen, Watertow... (read more about this author)

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