By Sheila Barth
BOX INFO: Two act musical comedy by Mel Brooks, appearing through August 27, at Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly: Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, 2 p.m. $57-$82. Kids ages 18-under, 50 percent off at all performances. 978-232-7200, nsmt.org.
A four-sided scrim bearing a large, foreboding, black and white image of a horror film-style castle on the hill greets theatergoers as they face North Shore Music Theater’s stage. Eerie sounds echo in surround-sound, while gusts of stage fog spurt around them, temporarily obfuscating their view. Chains rattle. An ominous buzz saw whirrs. Voices groan, moan, howl, in the distance, while ancient-style lanterns set intaglio in archways adorn the background of the theater-in-the-round. Cacophony abounds. Like an olden-style, black-and-white horror movie, the scrim beams a movie company logo, and announces the film, its stars, producers, directors, etc., then transforms live, in color, to a European village.
You haven’t entered the inner sanctum, but a place in Transylvania. Suddenly, funeral cortege attendees garbed in solemn black turn up their skirts and shed their bonnets and jackets, revealing colorful, traditional village garb, while rejoicing the death of monster-making Dr. Frankenstein. That’s it. He’s done. No more worries, Until…….
Yikes! The mad doctor has a grandson, who’s also a doctor, living in the United States. By law, the young scientist must be informed and claim his inheriting his grandfather’s castle and its terrifying laboratory, where the older doctor attempted to resurrect the dead and create new life out of cadaver parts.
Remember, this isn’t Alfred Hitchcock. It’s zany Mel Brooks, who with co-writer Thomas Meehan, also wrote the satiric musical, “The Producers”. Brooks has amassed more awards by recreating his 1974 spooky, comedic film, “Young Frankenstein,” making it a successful musical spoof, loaded with good and bad puns, double entendre, catchy music, and sexy scenes.
Lyrics in songs such as “Please Don’t Touch Me,” “Roll in the Hay,” the famous, “He Vas My Boyfriend,”and “Deep Love” had white-haired theatergoers and their younger counterparts gasp and laugh uproariously. Led by visionary director-choreographer Kevin Hill, the entire cast is fantastic. New York City-based Brad Bradley portraying Igor, the eager sidekick to the original Dr. Frankenstein and now his grandson, young Frederick Frawken-steen, as he pronounces it (terrific Tommy Labanaris), have strong, melodic voices and spot-on comedic timing.
Sandy Rosenberg is deliciously creepy portraying Frau Blucher, the elder Frankenstein’s housekeeper-girlfriend; Brooke Lacy is seductive and sexy as Inga, young Frankenstein’s assistant; and Brittney Morello portrays Elizabeth, Frederick Frankenstein’s pampered, egotistical fiancee’ with flair, especially in her solo, “Please Don’t Touch Me”. Brian Padgett stomps, clomps, and groans around monstrously, but after his hair-raising transformation, becomes a song-and-dance stage star, leading a snappy snazzy ensemble, top hat, tails-and cane tap-dance of “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. Winthrop’s Stephanie Moskal lights up the large, talented ensemble, while lighting designer Jack Mehler, sound designer Don Hanna, and Music Director Milton Granger and his marvelous musicians provide sensational eye-popping effects.
Director Hill ratchets up the excitement level to the maximum, by enclosing theatergoers in the show. Whether the scientists are brewing concoctions, villagers are running away, or they’re singing, dancing – whatever – the cast ia ubiquitous. Several scenes take place on platforms within the audience, delighting young and mature audiences.
“Young Frankenstein” is a hoot- a zany, crazy,fantastic, fun-filled adventure you don’t want to miss.