Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Welcome to the wild and crazy world of Mel Brooks at the North Shore Music Theatre. Their summer blockbuster hit musical is “Young Frankenstein” with no expense spared by owner and producer Bill Hanney to bring it to this 62 year old gem of a theatre. This hysterically funny musical is an inspired retelling of the Frankenstein legend based on Mel Brooks’s 1974 classic comedy movie masterpiece.
It opens with a black and white movie homage before the show and the fabulous set is by Kyle Dixon and the gorgeous costumes are based on William Ivey Long’s original creations. The story follows young, bright Doctor Frederick Frankenstein (that’s Fronkensteen) as he attempts to complete his grandfather’s masterwork and bring a corpse to life. Together with his oddly shaped and endearing helper Igor (that’s Eye-gor), his curvaceous lab assistant, Inga, and in spite of his incredibly self-involved fiancé Elizabeth, Frederick succeeds in creating a monster but not without scary and quite hilarious complications along the way. Add in the mysterious Frau Blucher who had quite the fling with his grandfather as well as other wild and crazy characters and you have all the necessary ingredients for a rip roaring musical that will entertain you all night long. Stupendous director and brilliant choreographer, Kevin Hill has a mega hit on his hands with his multitalented cast, making this musical one of the must see shows of the summer season in Massachusetts. Musical director Milton Granger and his 12 piece orchestra entrance the audience as well. Run do not walk to the box office for this crowd pleasing musical masterpiece.
Kevin blocks this show splendidly in this theatre in the round, giving each performer their moment to shine in their roles. He also obtains many laughs with his keen eye to comic line delivery, shtick, pratfalls and superb facial expressions. The clever lines and lyrics to the songs win sustained laughter, too. His marvelous dances can be witnessed in the phenomenal tap dance to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” with the chorus in tuxedos and big shoes like the monster, the fantastic dance to “Join the Family Business” which is reminiscent of “To Life” from “Fiddler on the Roof” and the manic song and Charleston dance to “Transylvania Mania” which all stop the show with their expert renditions. The athleticism and dancing prowess of this cast is astounding. Bravo! Multitalented Tommy Labanaris commands the stage as Frederick. He is a triple threat performer with a magnificent tenor voice. Tommy makes you forget Gene Wilder, making this role his own. His voice soars in “The Brain” and “Man About Town”, which are his solos. His interactions with the whole cast are perfect and he wins many laughs as well as a resounding standing ovation at his expertise in this role.
Brad Bradley is hilarious as his sidekick, Igor. He steals many a scene with his line delivery and dead pan looks and his hump moving from side to side during the show is comical, too. His fabulous facial expressions are laugh out loud moments. His song and dance with Tommy in the vaudeville style number “Together Again for the First Time” stops the show with their brilliant performances. Brad captures the essence of this character marvelously and shines in every role I have ever seen him do. Brooke Lacy plays the blonde sexpot, Inga, wonderfully. Her songs include “Roll in the Hay” when she first meets Frederick and Igor as well as “Listen to Your Heart” when she finally seduces the doctor at last. The dancing horses are excellently portrayed by Daniel Gold and David Visini and the hayride with the horses is hilariously portrayed. Her singing and dancing in this role is splendid as is her accent. Brooke also does a terrific tap dance in the “Ritz” number.
Sandy Rosenberg steals many a scene as the dragon lady, Frau Blucher. She is a hoot in this role as she describes her sexual escapades with Victor in her magnificent song “He Vas My Boyfriend” done with a perfect German accent. The audience is in stitches with all the sexual innuendoes that abound in this song. Frau Blucher’s scene with Elizabeth is also comical as she persuades her to follow her up the stairs in a suggestive, comical manner that has to be seen to be believed. Brittney Morello is superb as Elizabeth, the naughty, haughty, bawdy girlfriend of Frederick. She is the biggest scene stealer in this show. Her fabulous soprano voice soars in her songs especially “Don’t Touch Me” when she doesn’t want Frederick to touch her as she preens about the stage singing many naughty goings on and about tits. Brittney also sings “Ah Sweet Mystery” with the Monster when they have sex and in “Deep Love” with its many double entendres about the prowess of the monster in bed. She also delivers her one liners brilliantly and is phenomenal in this role. Her costumes are gorgeous especially the red gown and red fur piece with it. Brian Padgett is marvelous as the Monster. His scene with the Hermit is hysterically funny. Brian’s singing and dancing in “Puttin On the Ritz” is a definite show stopper as is his cartwheel and split at the end of it. His last scene where he speaks clearly and intelligently is splendid, too.
Tom Gleadow is the officious Inspector who lusts for revenge from the Frankenstein family. He also plays the comic Hermit where he sings “I Need Someone” as the spills hot soup on the monster’s crotch and lights his finger on fire. Tom’s standout moment is when he imitates Al Jolson during the number. Matthew Chappell as Victor has a dream sequence song “Join the Family Business” which is terrifically performed with the ghosts of the family in a show stopping dance. So for a fun filled night of nonstop laughter and merriment with phenomenal song and dance numbers, be sure to catch “Young Frankenstein” at Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre, before the Doctor, Monster and everyone leave Transylvania for good.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (15 to 27 August)
North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA
1(978)232-7200 or www.nsmt.org